The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Blog Archive

Mar 3, 2009

How to Raise Stress-Free Kids -

Kids have plenty to get stressed about: homework, cliques, sibling rivalry. And as news about the economy, natural disasters, and terrorism fills the airwaves and dinner-table conversations, it's almost impossible for children not to pick up on their parents' stress as well.

"I have kids tell me that they're worried about the environment and the economy," says clinical child psychologist Mark L. Goldstein, Ph.D., an adjunct professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Children have a different reaction to stress than adults. They may lose concentration and get stomachaches and more frequent colds. A study done at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that children whose families are under stress experience more fevers. But there are concrete ways to help them—and you—get a grip.

1. Troubleshoot your own stress

Eight out of 10 Americans say the economy is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to an American Psychological Association survey. Those fears can spread to our kids. "Children turn to parents in order to get a sense of what's going to happen," says Deborah Belle, director of the human-development doctoral program at Boston University. Taking a time out, whether it's a walk or a long hot bath, will calm you down and offer an example of a healthy reaction to stress. Put off difficult conversations with your spouse until after your kids have gone to bed.

2. Be firm about activity-overload

Kids are way overbooked these days. "I met with the family of an 11-year-old who was in a dozen different activities," says Dr. Goldstein. "She wasn't sleeping, her nails were bitten, and she was wetting her bed." When he recommended that she drop some of the activities, her parents protested that she loved them all. But parents have to make the decision of what's best. His rule of thumb: "One sport, one other activity, plus any religious education your child may be taking."

3. Bump bedtime up by half an hour

A 2006 National Sleep Foundation poll found that children hit the sheets about 30 minutes past their official bedtime. Plus, they may need much more sleep than you think, says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the sleep center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours a night, 5- to 12-year-olds require 9 to 11 hours, and kids 13 and up need about 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours. If there's a TV in your child's room, yank it, says Dr. Mindell. "The light suppresses production of relaxing melatonin and makes them less sleepy."

4. Encourage kids to move more

Children in America are exercising less than ever before. This inactivity decreases production of the hormones that help regulate stress. If your children don't play team sports or run around outside with friends, institute family activities such as an after-dinner walk or a weekend bike ride.

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