Kids are little sponges – they mimic daddy watching television with their little legs crossed and bob their head to your favorite song right along with you in the car.
But, unfortunately, that also means they pick up on when you are sad, frustrated, or stressed.
So, if you are feeling the tension of a tough year, you can bet your kids are too, which is why relieving stress as a family should be a mainstay in the home.
Gina Moffa, LCSW, a therapist out of New York City, tells Insider:
“If parents are exhibiting signs of anxiety or depression, kids will pick up on that and sometimes mirror it. Children copy parental behavior, even if it is not so healthy.”
It is easy to overlook a child’s need to let off a little steam when they do not let us know they are having a hard time processing all of life’s stressors.
Well, they do not let us know the way we expect.
Children’s frustrations typically come out in behavior changes, such as biting, tantrums, or flat-out rebellion.
Moffa explains, “because they don’t know what stress itself is, they will act out through crying, fits of rage, and changes in their energy level or sleep patterns are a few signs.”
Try one of these easy ways to get the whole family breathing easy so you can focus on the things that really matter- like cuddles and answering an endless barrage of fascinating questions.
1. Family Feast Preparation
You may have heard it said, “A family that cooks together, stays together.”
This is because the bonding that goes into preparing a meal together unites everyone on a common interest but provides a healthy escape from whatever stressors are happening in you and your children’s lives.
There are plenty of age-appropriate ways to utilize this delicious tool – have older kids cut veggies to recipes the younger kids help pick.
Make sure to give everyone in the family a specific and important task so all feel the value of their participation.
2. Dance Party
Physical activity maintains a healthy weight, improves cardiovascular function, and helps relieve stress.
What is there not to love?!
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies “found just 10 minutes of physical activity per week helped people feel happier.”
And besides, who wouldn’t release stress through roaring laughter after dad tries the moves he saw on the television?
3. Give Back
One of the best ways to help you forget about your problems is to help someone else with theirs.
Insider suggests finding a cause that is important to the whole family, and then make a plan of action that accomplishes the unified goal.
Choosing something where all ages in your family can participate is pertinent.
Try a soup kitchen where elementary school children can wipe tables down while older children can help prepare or distribute food.
After the family collaboration everyone will at least have gained good experience and perspective.
4. Be Present in the Moment
In the technological age it is nearly impossible to have all the family present in the same room without some sort of electronic entertainment.
How can anyone share how they are really feeling when dad is doing work on the computer, brother is playing video games, and mom is putting her grocery pick up order in?
Make a genuine effort to gather as a family in one room with no distractions and have an honest conversation about where everybody is at in life.
You may be surprised what you will uncover, and the subsequent stress relief that follows, after each member of the family feels truly heard and supported.
Even if you are not feeling stressed at the moment and don’t sense any hidden contention within the family, it is wise to be preventative.
Take the time to create an inviting and open home where everyone is allowed their struggles but you are all in it together to overcome any adversity that comes your way.
(h/t Mommy Underground)