Raising or taking care of children can be stressful. As parents or caregivers, we can feel stressed when we’re worried about paying the rent or worried about a sick family member or when our child is having a tantrum. We may try to protect our child from the stress we’re feeling, but children are very sensitive to our emotional states. If we are feeling stressed, most likely our child is also feeling that stress.
They might not know why you are stressed or why they feel stressed, but they feel the stress. This doesn’t mean you need to share every detail with your child about what is stressing you out, but it does give you a chance to tell them you are feeling stressed and to show them what you do to feel better and calmer.
Manage your stress first
The best way to help your child manage their stress or other big feelings is for you to manage your stress or big feelings first. Have you ever been on a plane or watched a movie where the flight attendants remind caregivers to put their oxygen mask on first, before helping to put their child’s oxygen mask on? If a caregiver doesn’t put their mask on first, they could pass out before they can help their child. It’s the same thing when caregivers want to help manage a child’s stress; the caregiver must take care of their needs first and then care for the child.
Wellness strategies can help caregivers to manage their own stress and big feelings preventatively and in the moment. Stress can affect all the parts of your life, such as personal, physical, and emotional, so it’s important to fill yourself up in all the parts of your life.
That can feel overwhelming at times, so choose a few strategies and try them out. See if they work and if they don’t, give yourself permission to try something else. If it feels impossible or like a chore, then it isn’t wellness!
Self-care strategies: find what works for you
Try some wellness strategies to see what works for you and your family, and remember to put your oxygen mask on first!
- The Self-care wheel (English or Spanish) developed by Olga Phoenix is filled with great preventative wellness strategies to help fill you up so you can feel more in control and able to manage your stress or big feelings.
- When you are feeling stressed or having big feelings in the moment, take a few seconds or minutes to practice some in the moment wellness strategies and then help your child.