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How to Talk to Your Kids about Stress

Stress.  It’s a tricky subject.  How can you tell your kids the basics of stress in life?  Read on for tips.

First, you should emphasize that not all stress is bad.  Stress comes in two forms:  eustress and distress. 

Eustress is the kind of stress that motivates, stirs you to action, helps you accomplish.  For example, if your kids have a fun class project with a due date, the due date may create eustress . . . it may motivate them to get the project done in a timely manner.

Distress is the kind of stress that frays a person’s nerves, creates anxiety or sorrow, and may lead to impaired decision-making and loss of emotional control.  For example, if your kids have a tough class project that is not going well and it has a near-term due date, that due date may create distress . . . it may create anxiety, limit your kids’ ability to think creatively, and stimulate either apathy or an anger response in your kids.

Next, you should discuss that everyone experiences distress from time to time.  In stressful times, it’s easy to feel like distress is only happening to you, but the truth is far from that.  Since distress is a common human experience, well adapted humans must learn to handle distress well in order for society to function properly (i.e., for relationships to remain healthy and tasks to be accomplished timely and well done).  Help your kids understand this “big picture”.  You should make sure that your kids know that distress is not a “free pass” for poor choices, bad behaviors, and emotional difficulties.  Help your kids understand empathy, forgiveness, and self-sacrificing benevolence as a means to deal with distress.  For example, if your daughter is experiencing distress because of the class project due date referenced above, help her understand that the teacher has set the due date and cannot grant her special exemption just because she thinks it’s “too hard” for her . . . help her understand the situation from her teacher’s perspective.   If the project is a team effort and one team member has not been sufficiently contributory, help your daughter exhibit forgiveness as that will help her release that negativity and return her focus to the completion of the project.  Finally, if she is upset about having to forego social plans in order to complete the project, help her understand the “big picture” (i.e., that completing her school work is of greater importance in the long term than is one social activity). 

NOTE:  Young children are not capable of fully grasping all of the concepts involved in this discussion; however, if you hold these discussions early and often, the foundation will be laid.  Then, as you have subsequent conversations about stress in the pre-teen years, your kids will come to grasp the concepts more readily than if they were being exposed to the concepts for the first time during the pre-teen years.

By following these tips, you can effectively talk to your kids about stress.  For more useful tips; continue to visit Care4hire.com.

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