Surprising Stress Relief For Kids

I had a big “lightbulb” moment over the week end.  Every week my sons get a list of spellings and times tables to learn on top of their usual homework and reading and getting it all done can really stress them out because all they want to do is usual “boys stuff”.  However, because I was always good at spellings, and because it is important, I always make a huge effort with them to learn their spellings and times tables and make sure they get top marks whenever possible.

But this week the spellings were noticeably more difficult that the last few weeks.  The words were all similar, 2 or 3 syllables long and all started with either dis, dec, disc, desc or pre – disallow, discipline, decision, description, preview and so on – 20 of them in total. 

One of my sons found the going especially tough.  In particular, when we tackled “desciption” (the only desc- word), he got muddled on all the other words he knew.  He was really trying hard and we were both getting stressed.  I really kept up with the effort though because – to me – spellings are simply a matter of going through them again and again.  However, it just isn’t that simple to everyone and it became clear he’d reached his limit.

I realised that he was not going to get them all right and that it was just the one word that created the chaos in his brain.   So I decided to let go of my own perfectionism, my own targets – and go with his.  I told him to ignore the one spelling and pretend he only had nineteen.  By concentrating on the ones he felt he could do, we boosted his confidence instead of killing it by focusing on the ones he couldn’t.

We proved to him that he could get a perfectly good score in what was going to be a difficult test (he’s 7) and he went into school on the morning of the spelling test feeling relaxed and confident about what he could do. 

Because I had let go of my ideals, my own perfectionism and stopped piling the pressure on him, he became less stressed and so more capable.  It’s not fair for parents to pressurise their kids.  Kids these days have far too much stress in their lives as it is and they just don’t need more from the very people who are supposed to be protecting them and guiding them in this world. 

The Serenity Prayer says:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

And that includes children.  Being a parent is stressful, but there are times when you need to keep that stress to yourself.  Never stress your children with your aspirations. Instead be the stress relief for your children. Being a good parent means that accepting the limitations of your children.  Sure, give them opportunities to grow and develop, encourage them, guide them, teach them and stretch them when they can do more, but have the wisdom to realise when you are flogging a dead horse – and don’t stress them with something they’re not ready for or are just not cut out for – simply because you want them to do it.

I learnt a valuable lesson this weekend.  I learn a new form of stress relief for kids.  My son learnt his spellings.  He did well, but if you want to know exactly how well, you’ve missed the point of this blog post. 🙂 

Leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Why Is Journaling A Form Of Stress Relief?

JournalsQuite often when you are under a lot of stress, or going through a traumatic situation, such as facing surgery for any reason, you may be advised to “write it down”.  This is therapeutic writing, or journaling as it is called, and it can really help you to get the the root cause of your stress and help you work through it. 

Like all forms of stress relief, though, it is not for everyone, but most individuals can benefit from taking time to write out their thoughts and deep feelings if they are willing to try.  And learning how this method of stress reduction can benefit you is one of the tricks to adopting it into your arsenal of stress relief tools. 

I first came across journaling after emergency major back surgery. Afterwards I was left relearning how to sit, stand and walk, knowing that I could have been paralysed had it not been successful. Journaling helped me because it acted as someone I could talk to – a close friend who wouldn’t judge or interrupt me. I used my notebook to pour out my fears, my frustrations and my struggles. I recorded what I’d found hard that day and what I’d found a bit easier. And I wrote down all the painkillers and antibiotics I had to take so that I could see the progress I was making as the dosage reduced. I can look back at the notebook I filled at the time and realise just how far I’ve come.

And all this is exactly why journaling works.  It promotes mental healing.

When you start to journal you begin by writing about all the negative stuff in your life – the why? why me? sort of things.  And as you write, you tap into all the negative energies and thoughts that you have lodged inside you – things that would grow and eat away at you if left alone – and you give vent to them.  This helps you to release all your mental anguish into the past, move through your negativity and help you to start to think more positively.

Journaling leads to physical healing too.  As you start to think more positively, your stress levels begin to reduce.  Lower stress levels cause elevated blood pressures to fall back to normal levels.  This helps to  improve heart health and also has a beneficial impact on the immune system.  In the long term this can lead to a significant improvement in general health and energy levels. 

And these days it couldn’t be easier.  You could of course do it the old fashioed way with pen and a notebook, like I did all those years ago, but most people seem to be online now and so you could set up a blog and write directly into that.  Or you could Facebook your progress, or type it into a Word file for your own private benefit. 

However you choose to do it, people who journal have access to a greater range of stress relief benefits than those who do not.  It is one of the easiest forms of stress relief I know.  Reading and writing are learnt together so the very fact you are reading this now means you have the ability to journal.  So if you don’t already, why not try journaling the next time you feel you just cannot cope.

Do you journal?  Please feel free to leave a comment below with your experiences.