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Coping with stress

The other day my 1st grader got off the bus, dragged himself into the house, snagged a snack and sat down for homework.  All routine.  Except for the awful look of frustration on his face.  After inquiring what was wrong I was informed that the bus-driver was a sub that afternoon and she was MEAN.  Grumble, Grumble, back to homework.

Couple minutes later I look back and there were tears streaming down his face.  More questions and he is still very-focused on that mean bus-driver, clearly homework was not in the forefront of his mind.  Found out the kids weren't aloud to talk /at all/ on the bus and that seemed to really stress him.  But I couldn't get his mind to shift off of it.

Since our weather was absolutely glorious I told him to put down his pencil and go for a bike ride.  Go around the block twice and then come back in for homework.  He brightened at the thought.  So we went out; got his helmet on; checked his tires and I sent him on his way.  When he was back, less then five-minutes later, he had forgotten all about that 'mean bus driver' and was ready to tackle his homework.  AHHhh... glorious stress relief!

Fast forward two nights later and he watched "Planet Earth" with his Uncle Dan and Dad, until fairly late and past his bedtime.  At midnight he came into Hubs and my room talking about how scary the bats were and that he just couldn't sleep.  Since we were out of town and not in his own room this might have added to the insecurities so I told him to go get his blanket and pillow and he can sleep on the floor near his Dad & me, which he gladly did.  An hour later he was still telling us about the scary bats and caves, although from the floor now.  Obviously, trying to just 'ignore' the thoughts running around in his head by telling him to get some sleep was not working.

So I turned on the lava lamp on the dresser and crawled onto the floor with him for a bit.  We focused on the 'blobs' moving around in the lamp, big ones, little ones, some meeting and making even bigger ones.  He was soon off in dream land.  Although, I have to admit he was awake about an hour later telling us about scary bats and bugs and this time I let him crawl up into bed with us.  This 5 month pregnant gal couldn't get on the floor again.  I rubbed his head a bit and reminded hom how much I love him, that did the final trick and he slept the rest of the night.  I wouldn't want it to be a habit, crawling into bed with us, but for the one night, in a strange house, it worked.

How do you help your kids 'refocus' stress?  It might be tempting to give them a slice of cake or let them veg in front of the TV when they are stressed but is that healthy?  Once in awhile? Sure! But as a general-coping mechanism? No.  You can help them as kids 'de-stress' in ways that will help them through adulthood!  Get active, get out, "burn-off" the stress, draw, make art or music, whatever healthy way works.

Secondly, how do you handle stress?  Your kids are watching!  A recent article, "Support Helps Children Cope With Deployments" from the American Forces Press Service reminds us of this fact:

“We had a very strong relationship between the caregiver’s mental health and their ability to cope as well as the ability for their children to handle some of the deployment stressors,” said Chandra, describing the findings of the study “Children on the Homefront: The Experiences of Children From Military Families.”

As the moms (or dads!) that are on the homefront taking care of the kids we can't bear all of the responsibility for our children's coping mechanism but we have a STRONG ability to influence them!  Teach them not-only by example, but teach them by helping them work through their own frustrations in a healthy-manner!

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

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