I don’t know about you, but from what I have seen in the news lately has been overwhelmingly negative. I think it is very important to take a moment and see what we can do to create a protective bubble within our homes to allow our children to be, well – children. The science is all very clear – stress is toxic to the body, makes it more difficult to learn, and dampens our ability to look toward a positive future. So here are some brief, easy suggestions of things we can do so that our children have a safe, calm, less stressful home life.
- Turn off the news! Really, I am all for having well informed, intelligent children. But the 24-hour news cycle not necessarily helpful. The graphic images, the language, and the real world dangers that exist may be best filtered through you before experienced by your children. Weekly magazines and carefully chosen film clips can be educational without the overwhelming toxicity that often exists in the attempts to compete for our attention.
- Do something positive with your children. Let them see the good that does exist. Create a family project to help some cause that is close to your hearts, or introduces your children to the wonderful opportunities to make a positive difference in the world. They are our future. Too few children (and adults) belong to synagogue, church or community groups these days where in the past the power of organization gave rise to wonderful charity efforts. We need to teach our kids to become citizens of community. I often talk in my parenting work about the wonderful opportunities that exist to build children’s thinking skills, explore their interests, and build their interpersonal skills as they create and become involved in community service projects.
- Play with them! Don’t just sit by happy to have the free moments while they are engaged in an activity. Find some old fashion board games or take them for a hike. Explore new activities together like rock climbing or skating. Kids love to see their parents struggle too!
- Learn to breathe together. Try this: take a nice long deep breath. Now let it out. Now do this two more times with your eyes closed. Next, embrace your child and see if you can both do three deep breaths in sync with one another, feeling the warmth and connection. Even if you start laughing together in the process you will have accomplished something wonderful – reduced the stress and physically bonded. The power of touch to heal is amazingly effective.
- Find ways to laugh together. I was flipping through channels the other day and came across a channel that plays TV shows from the 70’s. Ahhh, such innocence from Buffy and Jodie on “Family Affair”, and humor from “The Carol Burnett Show”. Showing your kids what TV was may not get them laughing because of the same reasons they made us happy, but you can probably laugh together at how “cool” has changed.
I know the world is a harsh, scary, difficult place. But our children deserve, and NEED, a safe oasis to grow.