10. Protect sleep.
Many children and virtually all teens are chronically sleep-deprived, which reduces their ability to cope with the normal stresses of life. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but:
If you have to wake your child in the morning, she’s not getting enough sleep.
Really. Start moving bedtime back by 15 minutes every night until you find the sweet spot where your child wakes up on her own, refreshed and cheerful. Protect your child from sleep deprivation.
11. Check your own attitude.
If you’re running around stressed out all the time, bemoaning how busy you are, what are you modeling for your child? That she’s not good enough unless she’s over-extended? Stress is not inevitable; it’s a choice.
Notice also what you’re modeling and discussing with your child about values, choices, and the meaning of life. Is life about working more to buy more things? Competing to be “the best”? Are you giving your teen the message that if she doesn’t get into the right college, her life is over? Does your child feel like she has to achieve to be worthy of your love, or is she more than enough, exactly as she is? (Contrary to popular opinion, kids are more self-motivated when they feel unconditionally loved.)
Finally, notice that your emotional tension has a huge impact on your child. When you get huffy, your child gets stressed. All of us will lose it if we get pushed to the edge. Our responsibility as grownups is to stay away from the edge.
12. Stay Connected.
Most of us take for granted that kids would rather be with other kids. But when children are asked, they invariably say they wish their parents wanted to spend more time with them. Yes, even preteens and teens like to know you’re there, available if they need you. Think of this as an insurance policy for your child. Your very presence helps him feel secure and melts away the stress. Stay connected to protect your child.
Finally, the most important factor in protecting your child or teen from stress may be the delight you take in him, and the closeness of your connection. If you’re too stressed to feel that delight, why not give yourself whatever support you need, to rediscover it?
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Written by: Dr. Laura Markham Originally appeared on: Ahaparenting.com Republished with permission.