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Stress Management for Parents


The calm and peace of mind achieved through the practice of yoga influences even others who come in regular contact with the practitioner. It has greater impact on children in the family, for children pick up vibes from the parents. Stress and anxiety in one or both parents ‘pass on’ to the children, no matter how skillful is the attempt at camouflage.

Swami Yogabhakti Saraswati, a teacher of English and Yoga in France states in Toga Education for Children that short yoga exercises before the lessons help to regain tranquility and to increase the faculties of concentration of pupils. She also found that many children have problems with their families, which disturb their ability to memorize and recommends that the physical, emotional and mental layers of the personality must be harmonized so that teaching can be effective.

Yoga is now being made part of the educational system in some of the States in India. Teachers from Government Schools in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa have been undergoing yoga training in Bihar School of Yoga. In the West, individuals and organizations are attempting to introduce yoga into the systems of education in their countries. RYE (Research on Yoga in Education) has been doing pioneering work in this direction.

Some positive coping skills young people might want to try when the changes they are going through because of their parents’ divorce seem overwhelming are:

Sticking to old routines as much as possible. Visitation and maybe even moving can throw familiar habits into turmoil for a time, but teenagers can help themselves feel more secure in the middle of transition if they keep much of their lives the same as before their parents’ divorce. If you always go to bed by 10:30 on school nights and midnight on weekends, stick to that habit as best you can. If you always eat breakfast, then keep on eating it. Go to school, exercise, watch your regular television shows.

Establishing new routines. Sometimes when we are faced with too many new people and events in our lives, we get to the point of not knowing what to do first. If that happens, many of us tell ourselves that we will get our act together tomorrow and we don’t do anything. One way to make new routines for ourselves and to start moving ahead in our lives is to make daily lists of the things we want and need to do. Even if we can’t check off all the items at the end of the day, by making a list, we establish a pattern for our activities and have some idea about what is going to happen next.

Learning to ask for what you need Even in the best of times, parents are not mind readers. When they are caught up in dealing with their own emotional issues raised by a divorce, they usually don’t have the time or energy to guess what it is we want or need. You need to learn to tell them. If you are desperate to hear some kind of reassurance, ask for it. If you don’t like being expected to take sides when your parents argue, let them know in a polite, but firm way. When you tell people what you need from them, you won’t always get it, but if you never ask, your chances of having your needs met are lower.

Building a support network. While we need to learn to stand on our own emotional feet, we also must accept the fact that we need support from other people to help us through life’s storms. Reaching out to friends and extended family members such as aunts and uncles and grandparents to start building relationships that aren’t completely focused on our parent’s divorce helps us to reclaim our own lives apart from our troubles. People who have some distance from the problems we are going through can often offer good advice and encouragement. They can help us get our minds going in other directions besides just thinking about what is bothering us.

Stress is part of parenting. Parents can become overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for their children and balancing work and family, and can feel they do not have enough support.

The way that parents and guardians handle stress affects their children. In extreme cases, parental stress can lead to child neglect or to a parent lashing out at his or her child. Seeing a parents or guardians take their stress out on others, teaches children that this is an okay way to deal with stress and frustration.

Tips for Parents to Handle Stress

Here are some tips for parents to handle pressure:

  • Learning to handle stress

  • Here are some signs to watch for and actions to take

  • Recognize signs of stress

  • Common signs include headaches, tight neck, racing heartbeat, anxiety, anger, stomach problems, and difficulty concentrating.

  • Avoid stress when possible

  • If you can avoid situations that cause you stress, do so. Also, be alert for times of day when tensions run high, such as mealtime or bedtime.

  • Don’t lose your cool

  • Take a few moments to cool down, rather than blow up.

  • Get organized

  • Make a list of what you need to do each day and set priorities. Be realistic. Cross off things that can wait. Leave time in your day for unexpected events.

  • Get all the help you can

  • Share chores.Give your children some responsibilities, such as helping with dinner or feeding the family pet. Ask family and friends for help.

  • Set up a network with other parents. Take turns watching each other’s children or driving children to after-school events. Talk with each other about challenges (and successes); this is a good way to relieve frustration.

  • Take care of yourself

A healthy person can handle the stress better so eat right, get enough sleep, schedule time for yourself to do something you enjoy and to relax.

Any major change in a child’s life can cause stress. Common sources of stress are the birth of a new sibling or the divorce of parents. Stress also can be caused by the death of a relative or a beloved pet, a family move, separation from parents for extended periods, pressure to succeed, overly strict discipline, and natural disasters (even when the child has only seen them on television).

Not all stress can, or should, be avoided. Young children do not view the world as adults do. Misunderstandings or feelings of confusion can build up and leave children with stress they cannot handle alone. Young children cannot easily verbalize these feelings, so we adults must be aware of physical or behavioral changes: loss of appetite, sleep troubles, nightmares, headaches, stomachaches, or regressive behaviors such as thumb sucking.

Adults play an important role in helping children cope with stress by providing a supportive atmosphere in which to talk about or play out concerns. We need to acknowledge and accept the feelings children express and give them our support, at home and at school. An attitude of love, understanding, and acceptance helps children get through difficult times.

Unfortunately, that worry is front and center for some adult children. Their parents may be living paycheck to paycheck, or it may be that they simply failed to plan well for retirement. Either way, the kids recognize the warning sign and the message is clear: “Financial crisis ahead.” They wonder how they will handle the burden if their parents run low on money.

If you are among them, there are steps you can take now to mitigate future financial troubles.

Talking to your parents is a good first move. Without question, the best time to talk about money with your parents is when they are healthy and independent. However, don’t expect an easy ride if your parents’ motto has always been, “We’re fine. Don’t worry.”

“If you’ve got parents who’ve always had control and never relied on their kids, that’s tough,” said certified financial planner Joan Gruber of Dallas. Gruber, who specializes in elder care issues, had a relative who never wanted to discuss the financial aspects of being incapacitated. She finally yielded when her health failed. Even then, she waited until she was being wheeled into surgery to sign over power of attorney to her children.

That is far from ideal. The longer you wait, the fewer choices you will have and the greater the potential for costly administrative hassles and emotional stress.

If your parents brush you off as alarmist, try this argument: Should anything happen to them, the burden of managing their health care and their finances will likely fall to you and your siblings. Since you want to follow their wishes and make them as comfortable as possible, it would be a gift to you if they minimized your burden by being open about their situation now.

Make sure basics are in order
At the very least, encourage your parents to create or update their estate planning documents. These documents include a will, a living will, and power of attorney authorizing another person to handle their business affairs if they are incapacitated, and a health-care proxy naming someone to make health-care decisions for them should they become unable to do so.

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