As a parent, you know full well that you have to wear many hats over the course of raising your children. In some moments you play the role of a caretaker while other times you will need to step into a disciplinarian role. However, one role you are always playing as a parent is that of a role model. While times of stress can make it difficult to model appropriate behavior, it’s these sorts of moments that can be powerful opportunities for you to model healthy coping skills for your kids.
When parents are under stress or are feeling anxious, kids can sense it whether or not they express it. It’s hardly anyone’s instinct to try to model healthy coping skills when they are stressed, but making this a regular practice can go a long way in helping your children fight anxiety and feel calm. Making it a point to model healthy coping skills when your anxiety might be minor or moderate can help you prepare for modeling healthy coping skills on days that are especially stressful.
Think Out Loud to Your Children
When you have had a stressful day, feel free to express it in a calm manner to your child and explain how you are going to help yourself calm down. For instance, you can mention to your teen that you had a tough day at work and mention how you are going to go for a run or practice yoga to help yourself relax. This might even be a good opportunity to invite your kids to practice calming activities with you.
Acknowledge Your Own Slip-Ups with Your Children
There will be times where you may slip-up and behave inappropriately in front of your children, but this can be a powerful teaching moment in itself. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge when you made a mistake and reflect on how you could have acted differently with your kids. By doing this, you can model ownership of your actions and help teach your kids that they can learn and grow from their mistakes.
Praise Your Kids When They Use Healthy Coping Skills
When you notice your kids acting appropriately and using healthy coping skills to calm down, be sure to offer plenty of praise and encouragement. Choosing to turn to healthy coping skills under stress isn’t easy to master, so be sure to acknowledge when your children or teens choose positive activities rather than acting out. Combining encouragement and praise with continued intentional modeling of healthy coping skills will go a long way in supporting calm behavior in your kids.