A Day In The Life of Mom is pleased to host Jennifer Appleby. Read below for her article on how to cope with parental stress and anxieties.
Children facing bullying and lacking exercise rank as the highest concerns among parents. There is probably no greater responsibility than raising children, and a certain degree of anxiety is inevitable. In fact, it can be hard for us as parents to heed the very advice we give our own children about coping with difficulties. Given the profound way in which parents can shape children’s attitudes and self-esteem, it is vital that they find a way of coping with anxieties effectively.
Practice Mindfulness Techniques regularly
Mindfulness is an increasingly popular tool for managing anxiety. With a focus on gentle, deep breathing, it helps you to visualize any particular anxieties, acknowledge them and become less fearful of them. This in turn reduces the stress response and enables you to feel calmer.
A good starting point is to identify a few specific concerns you have relating to your child and apply them to some mindful meditation. Depending on your approach to parenting, you may consider encouraging your child to join in with some short, daily mindful techniques. Studies show the positive effect of mindfulness on children’s anxiety, as well as attention spans and social skills.
Focus on realistic concerns
Your concerns are likely to depend on the age of our child and the things going on in their life at the moment. For example, you may be anxious about your child being bullied. Ease your anxiety with practical measures. For example, learn the warning signs of bullying to look out for in your child, and, if possible, reinforce the message to your child that they can talk to you about anything.
Or perhaps your anxiety surrounds their safety on the road as they become more mobile growing up or start driving lessons in their teens. Address road safety concerns by practicing certain age-appropriate activities regularly with your child, such as crossing the road, wearing protective gear when cycling and having regular driving lessons together. These sorts of steps will help both you and your child grow in confidence, as well as giving you precious bonding time.
Seek advice from others
It can be easy to think you need to tackle your anxieties alone as a parent. It is incredibly important to remember that this is not the case at all. Make the most of trusted friends who are also parents; they are likely to understand your concerns and will either be able to offer some ideas to help ease your them, or point you in the direction of someone who has been through similar experiences. It is also worth speaking to a professional about any anxieties you have. For example, a medical professional can give you an honest assessment of any developmental aspects related to your child. Equally, they can help you come up with appropriate coping strategies for tackling your anxieties.
Take care of You
Having concerns about your child’s wellbeing is a natural part of the parenting process. You only want the best for your child. Try to remind yourself to take care of yourself too. Your child’s emotional health is heavily bound up with yours, so focus on finding strategies that will enable you to feel less anxious, more confident and – most importantly – enjoy more fully watching your child develop.