Tag Archives: Jackie Ferguson

Assure kids of your love and support

To build your children’s Stress Safety Net (SSN) the second [see the first here] and most important component is your unconditional love: to love them without condition. It’s the thread that holds everything together.

Unconditional love doesn’t require you to always approve of their behavior; you love them in spite of it. You’re there for them, yet won’t necessarily rescue them from foolish behavior. You can apply consequences to their misbehavior, even punish them, and still love them.

Todd stood by his teenage son who repeatedly got into trouble with the law. Each time he received a call from the police, he’d go through the process without rescuing him and assuring him of his love while his son faced the consequences. Eventually, his son got involved in sports and slowly straightened himself out. He even thanked Todd for making him take responsibility for his own behavior while still supporting him.

Unconditional love requires connecting with your kids regularly, lovingly, playfully, and much more often than not, positively. This allows you to survive the normal, uncomfortable connections.

Keep in mind, if your kids don’t connect with you positively, they’ll connect with you negatively; chronic fighting and clinging are examples.

A young single mother of two small children felt drained most of the time working a full-time job and managing the home front all alone. When home she raced around trying to get everything done. Her kids clung to her making it even more difficult. Someone advised her to spend an uninterrupted weekend hour with both of her kids doing fun things together. Much to her amazement, after a couple of weeks, her kids quit clinging to her the rest of the week. They’d been starved for her full attention. Once they received it they felt more secure and loved.

With all kids these moments are to create a trusting relationship. With older kids they’re also to know what’s going on in their lives. Peer pressure can get them into situations they’re unable to handle well. You must keep your eyes open to what your kids, their friends, and other kids in their age group are doing.

Whatever your child’s age, these connections don’t have to be time consuming; most take just minutes. Like reading your child a story after school, watching TV together, sitting together while you both do your “homework,” or daily exchanging hugs and kisses in the car.

All kids, regardless of their ages and resistance, need these special moments. Nurture them.

Unconditional love also requires being nonjudgmental. Judgments feel like you’re putting a condition on your love. As parents you want to help your children do well admonishing, “Don’t be a slob chewing with your mouth open.” “You’re too lazy about school work.”

Instead of labeling your child lazy or a slob, describe the behavior you want to change. “Chew with your mouth closed, please,” or “Set aside two hours to do homework when you get home.” Your kids respond better when you deliver it this way.

Next week we’ll cover teaching your children your positive values.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.

Parents role models for children’s behavior

Kids learn more from you, especially at earlier ages, than from any other source

Teaching kids how to manage their stress is a gift that will pay them dividends for the rest of their lives.

First build them a Stress Safety Net (SSN) so they can feel safe, secure and loved. This creates a springboard from which they can launch into their challenges and opportunities. The first component of this SSN is “Parents as Role Models,” (adapted from my audio program, “Teaching Kids how to Manage Stress.”)

Parents are their children’s number one role models. Kids learn more from you, especially at earlier ages, than from any other source. What has your own stress management style taught your children, who learn from both your effective and ineffective strategies? How you communicate, manage your emotions and handle conflicts teach your children something.

To become conscious of what you’re teaching your kids, ask yourself, “Is how I’m handling this stressful situation how I want to teach my kids to handle similar situations?” If not, you need to learn to better handle it yourself. You cannot teach what you don’t understand, so learn and practice stress reduction skills for yourself. Your children will learn from your example.

An essential tool to improve what you model is to understand that the role you play with your children largely dictates their role in reaction to you. A change in your role almost always brings about a change in your child’s behavior. For example, if you constantly remind your kids to do their homework – the reminder role – they’ll react by taking on the role of forgetful or dutiful child perhaps. If you’re not happy with the forgetful role you may nag that child to remind her to do her homework. But your reminder role keeps her in her forgetful role!

The point? To get a different outcome with her change the role you’re playing: stop reminding. Identify and announce a different role that would encourage her to take more responsibility like the supportive role. Only step in to help her with homework when she asks. This new role requires you to stop reminding her. If she chooses to forget she’ll pay the consequences. She’ll probably blame you for her own forgetfulness but don’t get hooked by that. One day she’ll figure out that you truly have stopped reminding leaving her to remind herself.

In situations that your kids aren’t handling well figure out if the role you’re playing makes you part of the solution or part of the problem. If part of the problem, which other role could you play to encourage your kids to handle the situation more responsibly? If your child has been accused of stealing again and you normally play the protector role shielding them from consequences by denying their culpability, could you take on the investigator role instead and look for the facts before deciding how to handle it?

Understanding that the roles you play actually set the stage for your kids’ behavior opens up entirely new options in changing yourself in hopes of encouraging more responsible behavior from them.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.

Create a stress safety net for your kids

You can’t prevent your kids from experiencing stress (although many “helicopter parents” try their best) but there is much you can do to help them learn to handle it.

All kids need to feel safe, secure and loved. A 35-year study that followed 87 Harvard College men into middle age found the healthiest at age 55 were those who said their parents were the most caring. The young men who said their parents were less loving, and especially those who saw their parents as unjust, were most likely to have illnesses like heart disease and hypertension by age 55.

Parents are the main anchors in children’s lives. When kids feel cared for and loved, their moment-to-to-moment stress is reduced lowering their stress hormones thereby improving immune function, setting the stage for a healthier adulthood.

So, talk to your children. Find out if they feel loved. This isn’t about buying them stuff. It’s about accepting their perceptions of their relationship with you as the truth and acting in a way that your children may experience you as fair and loving.

Just as a trapeze artist can practice new moves with more confidence and less fear knowing there is a safety net below to catch her if she falls, so, too, can children take new risks, try new stress management behaviors, when they know they have a safety net to fall back on when something goes wrong.

Build a stress safety net for the kids in your life. There are six components (adapted from my audio program “Teaching Kids how to Manage Stress):

1. Parents as role models;

2. Unconditional love;

3. Values;

4. Hope and optimism;

5. Problem-solving;

6. Personal responsibility;

If you have a mostly loving relationship with your children you can begin immediately to teach them stress management skills.

However, if you have a distant and distrustful relationship, you’ll need to concentrate on establishing a loving and trusting one first, before they will be open to you teaching them the skills that will follow in future articles. Concentrate on creating the safety net for the next months. When more trust evolves, then you can teach them how to think and how to problem solve.

We don’t normally think about teaching someone how to think. Yet your stressors begin and end with your thoughts about them. Your thoughts represent your beliefs, the underlying source of much stress. Your thoughts trigger your emotional reactions, which dictate your behavioral reactions. For example, your 15-year-old is nervous about a Spanish test. He knows he’ll do terribly (his belief). He tells himself, “I’m so stupid. I’m going to flunk this test.” (Belief/perception communicated through his thoughts.) He feels great anxiety and fear (stress emotions) and feels sick to his stomach (the fight/flight hormones wreaking havoc on his body.)

As a parent how should you handle this? Tell him how smart he is? Confirm that he does poorly in Spanish? Over the following weeks we’ll explore how you can help him handle this and many other challenges.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach.