How to Avoid Taking Your Stress Out On Your Kids

As mothers, we are constantly trying to juggle responsibilities. With these responsibilities comes stress, a lot of stress. Add children, and before we know it, we are taking our stress out on them. In fact, we might find ourselves treating friends and coworkers better than our own children and families.

We don’t want to dump our stress on our children. We don’t need to tell them all our woes. They can’t fix it, they don’t understand it, and at their age they don’t need to be stressed and worried about grown up problems.

We do need to take a few minutes to figure out what is causing our stress. Are we tired, overwhelmed, money trouble, marriage stress or work stress? Maybe we have just had a long day juggling the laundry, cleaning, playing Candy Land, and chauffeuring kids. After a little introspection we need to realize that stress is going to happen and we should do all we can to avoid taking it out on our children.

So.. What can we do?

Don’t Multitask – Focus on our Children When we have a lot to do, and a lot on our minds, it is easy to think that multitasking is the answer. As women we seem to take pride in our multitasking abilities. When we are trying to make dinner, help kids with homework, fold laundry, AND listen to our 5 year old talk about their day, everything else will be more important than what happened at recess. We take our frustrations and stress out on our children because they are making it hard for us to get EVERYTHING ELSE done. The laundry can wait, and so can dinner. Sit down with your child. Give them your undivided attention and focus on their words and their facial expressions. Not only will it bring you closer, but we won’t see them as a stress, we will see them as the children we love more than anything. Remember LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E.

Establish a Routine We need to put our families and children on a routine. With a routine, we will know what to expect and so will our children. This will eliminate a lot of stress that comes from the unknown and from struggles with bed time and mealtime. Our children will be better behaved when things are predictable. This mean less stress triggers for us as mothers.

Have Realistic Expectations We don’t have to be super women. And, we SHOULD NOT COMPARE OURSELVES TO OTHER MOMS. We need to be realistic about what we can tackle and undertake. When we start comparing we tend to see everyone else’s strengths and our weaknesses. It is never a fair comparison. We should surround ourselves with people and things that are supportive and uplifting. Not things that make us feel inadequate.

Put Ourselves in our Children’s Shoes As mothers, we need to take a minute to see things from our children’s perspectives. Have empathy. Realize they don’t mean to upset us. They are young, learning, and inquisitive. They don’t know rush, hurry, or quick. If we can take just a second and see things from their eyes, we will not be so quick to take our frustrations out on them.

See our Children as People When we are stressed, it is easy to see our children as objects. Objects that are keeping us from what we are trying to do. We are trying to make dinner, or answer the phone, or fold the laundry and their need for help or attention is getting in the way. We need to see them as people. Little people. They have thoughts and hopes and dreams and good days and bad days just like us. It is the laundry that is actually getting in the way of us being with our kids, Right?

Play Together as a Family We have to find time to recreate and relax together as a family. Life needs to be filled with work and play. When families play together they grow closer, develop stronger relationships, and have more patience for one another. Plus it is a needed diversion from the stress we deal with each day. Find time at least once a week to do something fun together (this doesn’t mean it has to cost money).

Have a Sense of Humor Laugh. When you are ready to loose your temper with your children because you are stressed, laugh first. Even if you have to force yourself. You will find it fixes a lot of things.

Minimize Minimize the stuff in our homes. When we have more than we can maintain, even if it is just too many clothes, everything becomes overwhelming and stressful. We will quickly take our stress out on our children. Work to make the spaces in our lives manageable. Give away, throw out, and get rid of. The clutter in our homes and cars becomes overwhelming and makes the other stresses seem even worse.

Don’t Over Schedule We shouldn’t over schedule our children or ourselves. To many things on our family plates will always bring stress. Our kids don’t need to be involved in a million extra curricular activities, and we don’t have to say yes to every play date and activity. We need to PROTECT our family’s time. This protection will bring peace and time together. Plus there will be less rushing. Rushing compounds stress.

Manage our Time Cliche, I know, but vital. Time management is so important to our lives. We do need to stay organized and manage our responsibilities and the time it takes to get things done.

Plan Ahead This goes right along with managing our time. Being prepared and planning ahead will help eliminate a lot of our family stress. Make lunches for school the night before, lay out clothes the night before, even set the breakfast table before you go to bed each night. Round up backpacks and school work, shoes and socks before everyone goes to sleep. Make reasonable preparations to eliminate having to rush. Rushing brings stress, especially with children.

Find Time For Yourself As mother’s we are always taking care of other people. We forget to take care of ourselves. We should pick one or two things we would like to learn or get better at, hobbies or interest, and find time for them. Along with this, we need to eat right, exercise, even if it is just a walk around the block, and get enough sleep. When we are hungry and tired we loose our temper and take our frustrations out on our kids.

Stress is part of life. Taking it out on our kids doesn’t have to be.

About the Author

Heather Ann Johnson is a homemaker, wife and mother. She and her husband have 4 children. She is an Adjunct Faculty member at Brigham Young University where she teaches students the principles behind successful families. Her site, Family Volley, answers reader’s questions about families, marital relationships, and raising children. Heather is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


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