Is worrying incessantly about your kids taking over your days and keeping you up at night?
All parents want the best for their children. And because of that, parents worry. You worry about their first day of school, you worry about their safety, you worry about whether they’re being bullied, you worry about what they’re looking up on the internet, you worry about who they’re hanging out with… the list never ends. Over-worrying can be the root of anxiety and if left unchecked, depression. Not to mention, your child will probably feel annoyed at some point, and as a result, you will inadvertently push them further away. And, it is also hazardous to your child’s wellbeing. Here are 10 ways to help you not drive yourself – and your children – crazy with worry.
- ACCEPT UNCERTAINTY
As a parent, you feel secure if you are able to control aspects of your child’s life. But the truth is, you just can’t completely control everything, and it can be hard to accept that. The earlier you learn to make peace with uncertainty, the better you’ll get at dealing with the all the surprises you are certain to face throughout your child’s life. Go with the flow, and develop flexibility and creativity in handling challenging moments with your child.
- GET A HOBBY
First things first: dropping off your kids at school is not considered a hobby. Pick up a hobby – either a new one or go back to your favourite pastime before your child came along. Do recognise early in your parenting journey that you need to take care of yourself. Making time for yourself, and doing what you are interested in, is one way of taking care of your emotional self. A hobby will help you to relax and recharge your energy. Don’t have time to invest in a skill-heavy hobby? Work out instead. Exercising is healthy, and not to mention necessary.
- SPEND TIME WITH YOUR SPOUSE
Don’t make your child the centre of your universe: you have to take care of your relational self. Being a parent is a demanding job, and it’s so easy to neglect your spouse. Make the effort to go for a short but sweet getaway once a year (your kids will be fine without you for two days, and so will you), or perhaps go to the movies once a month and have a love life. What is more important is to spend at least 20 minutes of quality time with each other daily. Share your fears and concerns with each other so you don’t overburden yourself with all the worries you’re shouldering. Share also the joys and excitement of the day. Healthy couples need a variety of topics to talk about – not just conversations that revolve around their children.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ‘TEACHABLE MOMENTS’
One of the most important skills parents ought to nurture is the ability to recognise and take advantage of ‘teachable moments’ in everyday life. These can happen anywhere and anytime. When your child slips up, do not panic or over-react, but assure them that it is normal to make mistakes and wrong decisions. If they made an honest mistake, have them learn from it and remind them not to repeat it. If it is a wrong decision, allow them to face the consequences and learn from the experience. Allowing your child to fail – and to make mistakes – takes a significant amount of stress and energy off having to protect them 24/7.
- PRACTICE MINDFUL PARENTING
Very often, parents worry too much because it can be hard to differentiate a problem-solving thought from unproductive worrying. As parents, perhaps the most precious thing we can give our child is the gift of our full presence, your mind wholly in the moment, instead of thinking about the past or future. Meditation is a great way to help you de-clutter your mind and experience the peace within. With practice, you will be more conscious of what you’re worrying about, and remain calm when responding to the challenges of parenting.
- DON’T EXAGGERATE
Getting a ‘B’ on an exam is not the end of the world. It’s easy to blow events out of proportion when something goes wrong or when your kid makes a mistake; but don’t have a meltdown if the problem is relatively minor, such as forgetting homework or arguing with a classmate. It’s more important to focus on building character and instilling values in your child, rather than only chasing academic achievement. Be a well-balanced parent who wants the best for her child in all aspects of his or her life.
- STOP MICROMANAGING
There is a fine line between being concerned and micromanaging. Don’t over-step it, because micromanaging hurts relationships even if your intentions are as pure as gold. This is especially important as your child grows older. Tweens and teens need more personal space and privacy, so they can develop independence, learn to make decisions and solve their own problems. This is also a stage where they would like to have more time with their friends, and hence, fine-tune their social skills.
- HAVE A HEALTHY DIET
Chugging down three cups of coffee a day? It’s time to cut down. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and boosts adrenaline, sometimes causing you to feel jittery and restless. Instead, develop a taste for a healthy diet and make sure you get enough sleep.
- PRACTISE SELF-VALIDATION
Remember: you are the one who ought to validate your child, and not the other way round. While it is nice to receive praises and acknowledgement from others, basing your self-worth on outside validation will make you seem clingy. One of the best gifts you can give to your child is to learn to validate yourself, so you can love your child unconditionally. Validation does not mean focusing on the end results, but rather the effort put in, even if the results turn out to be disappointing.
- JUST DO YOUR BEST
Like any relationship, parenting works best when you stop trying too hard. Know that even with the most well-intentioned efforts to protect your child, mistakes and disasters will still happen. Do not pressure yourself to be a perfect parent; just do your best, and embrace the reality and wisdom of a ‘good-enough parent’.