Daddy's Christmas Angel

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stop Stressing Out Your Kids

Focus on a cloud  - MM Sikes
Stop Stressing Out Your Kids was the topic of a February 11 segment on the NBC Today show. The discussion centered on how children from elementary age through college are more stressed out today than ever before. They live in a more competitive world. They have concerns about the economy. They're over-scheduled and feel pressure at home.

At school the children are unable to focus and concentrate due to this stress. They suffer from headaches, stomach aches, insomnia, and emotional problems.

A way to overcome these problems is to teach coping strategies. Teaching children to take a deep breath was one of the strategies mentioned.

I had to smile because for a number of years I've been using that strategy in my art classroom. As soon as the children come in and sit down I have them close their eyes, take a deep breath and focus on something. It might be a star, a cloud, a circle, a colored dot, a square--whatever seems appropriate for the day's art work. I want them to relax and concentrate. Some of them are coming in from outside or from a physical education class, so they really need a moment to relax and regroup.

When I first started doing this little relaxing exercise, I planned to do it just for the day and then I decided to do it for another week or so. But then I found it worked well with them to help gain focus and the children came in expecting to do it. Now I am seeing it as more important than ever. It's a little like the deep breathing exercises used in yoga which also help with focus and relaxation.

The NBC program concluded with the suggestion that the child might have a positive mantra to say to himself or aloud. The suggestion was, "Go away, worries; don't bother me."

Perhaps I should add a mantra to my relaxing exercise. It might be, "Focus and let my creativity flow."

My wish and hope is for children who have a time to decompress at home and a place to feel unstressed in my art classroom.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've read several articles about the amount of activities stresses out kids. And after listening to co-workers describe their week of toting kids all over the place for activites, I'd have to guess they're stressed as well!

Marian Allen said...

Great exercise, Monti! Your kids were lucky to have someone to give them not only that moment but that strategy. I'll bet some of them used it other places and times, too. :)

Teachers never know how much of an impact they have on multiple lives.

Marian Allen

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks for your comments, Alex and Marian. As parents we want our children to have every opportunity, but sometimes every opportunity is too much.

Sofie Couch said...

A topic near and dear to my heart, Monti! At one point, I finally decided that the day of my (then) 10 year old should not be more stressful than mine - so we pulled out and homeschooled. It has made all the difference in the world. Thank you SO much for acknowledging that! Homeschool/stress-free living hasn't meant lower expectations. (Just ask the 15 year old who has finished her first year of college.) It has meant being able to pursue their interests, learn in vivo, and the freedom to explore their gifts.

You rock, Monti, and I'd be willing to bet your students think so too!

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Sofie, you are so gifted! I know your children have benefited from being with you. Not all children are so fortunate.

A 15-year-old with a year of college already! That's amazing!

Thank you! I love to see children find joy in their art. It's something they can carry through life.

BodieP said...

What a lovely idea--I absolutely agree that de-stressing our kids is crucial. When I read things like this I feel much better about having made the decision way back in toddler days that I was not going to rush my kid through life. I gave him an extra year before kindergarten, and we waited a long time before we started the summer camp thing. And clubs? Nah, not so much. The upshot of it is that we have a great relationship--and time to enjoy each other. School, combined with band and athletics, is enough scheduling, as far as I'm concerned.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

A great relationship with your child is priceless, Bodie! Thank you for your comment.

Crafty Green Poet said...

that sounds like a wonderful way to start an art class (or any activity really!)

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thanks, Crafty Green Poet! It would work quite well for poetry.

Daisy Hickman said...

Yes, yes, yes. We can't become an enlightened society if our schools stay the same: high pressure, based on superficial indicators of intelligence and creativity, and basically, without inspiration. I'm sure your classes, Monti, are a great gift to your students. (Btw, if you haven't seen Eye of the Dolphin, you might enjoy it. Sort of along these lines, how some schools simply miss the point so often.) My best, Daisy

Diana Cosby said...

Excellent blog, Monti.
In this technical age with schedules filled, it's easy to overwhelm our children. When, learning to focus, to do do a few things well is as important. And, lets not forget when we have more time with an event, we not only learn, but have time to savor. :)

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Thank you, Daisy and Diana for the excellent, thoughtful comments. You both are amazing women I admire very much!