It does little good to attempt to de-stress the lives of our children if we, as parents, teachers and caregivers, don’t first look at our own lives. One of the ways children learn how to navigate the world is from observing, processing, and internalizing how the adults around them act and react in daily life and relationships. As the old (and accurate) saying goes: Actions speak louder than words.
Think about it: if you tell a 5-year-old who has just lost her favorite stuffed animal, “Honey, don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll find it. Let’s take some nice deep breaths and focus on finding it together!” and then, when you can’t find something important of your own (wallet or car keys, for example) you become anxious, irritable, frantic and increasingly impatient with those around you, what do you think your kids learn?
The first step in removing yourself from the cycle of stress is noticing you are in it. Noticing is an important practice in yoga and mindfulness. It entails creating a space or a pause, then inquiring, feeling, recognizing and reasoning.
How often do you do this in moments of difficulty? Most of us seldom notice in this way, particularly in difficult or stressful situations. So ask yourself these basic questions to help you recognize if you may be experiencing and reacting to the effects of stress in your daily life: