Monday, June 20, 2011

Tip 32 - Build stress resiliance—30 minutes of quiet-time a day

"SUMMER TIME, AND THE LIVING IS EASY", the song from Porgy and Bess,  makes us all think of long. luxurious days at the park or the beach. But with summer comes the stress of having your children at home much more. Your job is the same as it is during the year but children are actually thrown off by such a dramtic change in their routine. Add to this that we live in a very stressful world: financial worries, stresses associated with both parents working outside the home, not to mention concern over school performance and the general health and welfare of our children. And parents get so much conflicting advice - To be or not to be a "TIger Mom."  

There is no way we can protect our children from stress but quite a bit  new research suggests that the way we parent can build our children’s’ resilience to stress. Michael Meaney and his colleagues at McGill University, for example, have conducted research with animals showing that babies with more nurturing mothers exhibit lower levels of stress hormones when put into stressful situations are generally less anxious and are in turn more nurturing parents themselves. Moreover, these effects are inherited by the next generation. If humans possess genetic responses to stress similar to that seen in the animal studies, it is important that parents find avenues of relaxation for themselves so that they can be nurturing parents. It is probably also helpful, based on other new research, that both parents and their children schedule some time each day for stress-reducing activities.
How can you as a parent who is trying to juggle so many things yourself possibly find time for relaxation and try to find additional stress free times for your child as well?  I recommend you, your spouse and any other caretakers in the home, schedule “quiet time” into your daily routine. Notice I don’t say” down-time” because some of the situations we might consider as down-time, like watching TV or surfing the internet have been shown to stimulate our brain rather than reduce stress..  Quiet-time on the other hand should down regulate neurochemicals associated with stress. Quiet time activities for you may include reading in a quiet room before bed, listening to your favorite music while cooking, doing yoga, rocking in a rocking chair with your baby, gardening or taking a long walk—anything that puts you into a frame of mind where you can suspend, even for a short period of time, daily events that concern you. 
Your children will also need quiet time and you will probably need to schedule it for them. For your children, although they may argue with you about this, anything entertaining like video games, television, social networking is not relaxing.  Research indicates that children who play video games in the evening, for example, often have more problems with sleep. So try to establish a regular time each day (often a half hour before bedtime works well) when everyone in the house settles into reading, listening to soft music, or just talking one-on-one about the day. If you opt for talking during quiet time, try to avoid topics that might be upsetting like school grades, issues with friends, etc. You might want to focus on an upcoming holiday from school, vacation or something funny that happened at school. Keep the conversation light and positive. 
Tip  32 – build your child’s resistance to stress through 30 minutes of “quiet time” each day.

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