Children are not immune to the stress many of us experience daily. Our children hear when we complain about rising fuel costs, interest rates and ongoing load shedding. Load shedding, for example, increases children’s anxiety.
Natasha Freemantle, children’s mental health specialist, says there are ways to help children deal with stress triggers.
Examples of daily causes of stress include:
- Traffic jam on the way to and from work caused by loadshedding.
- Inability to do your work properly and meet deadlines due to loadshedding.
- Your standard grocery shop bill has gone up again.
- The interest rate goes up again and so do your loan repayments.
- You worry about how to stretch your budget to the end of the month.
- You rush home in traffic, rush to make dinner before load shedding hits, plus it’s suicide hour and there’s no water in the taps for bath time.
For more tips to survive load shedding
Children often act out in the early evening when they are tired. They maybe have not seen their parents all day and they want attention. It can be difficult to manage these outbursts when you are also feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
However, if we don’t manage our frustration, repeated displays of anger could result in our children viewing us as a threat or another source of anxiety, says Freemantle.
Prolonged over time this may start to take away from their secure attachment and this is something no child deserves or should have to experience. Attachment theory has shown that the impact of an insecure attachment is lifelong and presents many challenges in future relationships.
The challenges we are experiencing aren’t going away anytime soon so we need to be extra mindful of how we handle the emotions we project onto our children while dealing with a storm on the inside.
Freemantle explains the following ways we can do this:
- In moments of extreme stress, walk away, take a deep breath, and remind yourself they are only children and often their behaviour is age appropriate. Return and set boundaries in a calm manner.
- Practice gratitude. It removes some of the water from your cup so that there is more room for other new stressors. Gratitude has been scientifically proven to improve your frame of mind.
- Take time for self-care. It is not selfish to choose a small part of your day to exercise, practice a hobby or just be quiet. You will be able to give your children and your partner a better version of yourself.
- Many of our current stressors, such as load shedding and traffic, are predictable. Do what you can to make them less difficult to endure. Play soothing sounds in the car and use it as a time to be mindful. Plan easy-cook, budget-friendly meals for the evenings.
“We are all doing the best we can, but we must be mindful of the impact these continuous, stressful times are having on our kids and our relationship with them. Be kind to yourself and know that you won’t always get it right, and when you don’t take a moment to repair it, apologise for your outburst, shower them with love and move forward together,” says Freemantle.
For more information visit Natasha Freemantle’s website