A hot button issue in politics today revolves around healthcare. Regardless of one’s political persuasion or philosophy on how best to deal with the complexities of providing and funding healthcare, there is one area that nearly every parent agrees: they want their children to grow up and have healthy adult lives. Recent research shows there may be something parents can do to impact healthcare costs of the future (and it does not require voting!)
The authors of the research show a link between childhood aggression and health concerns in adulthood. It seems that children who exhibit aggression are more likely to have health problems later in their life that require medical attention or hospital care. Also, children who are liked by their peers have lower instances of the need for healthcare in adulthood.
This information should encourage parents to teach their children how to deal with stress and anger and how to develop good social relationships. There is tons of advice available by a simple internet search on helping children deal with stress. Techniques range from helping children identify and verbalize the feelings they are experiencing to teaching them practical breathing and counting techniques. These tools are valuable and extremely helpful. I’ll add one idea to the plethora of offerings available.
Model it! One way to help children with stress, anger, and good social relationships is to be a calm and connected parent. We all intuitively know a “do what I say and not what I do” parenting technique is very limited in being effective. Instead, our model of how to deal with stress and anger will go much further. That requires being open with your child. It involves establishing a good social relationship with them.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to help children learn how to deal with anger and stress is to let them into your own world. Share with them what is going on in your mind and how you are dealing with stressful situations. We often want to remain “perfect” and “strong” in the eyes of our children, but perhaps showing them how to successfully deal with those issues will provide them with a model they can follow.
So in honor of tax day (this was written the day after I stayed up till midnight filing taxes-I’m trying NOT to teach procrastination to my children), save the government some future healthcare dollars by taking a few minutes to be real with your children. Make a commitment to teach them 3 ways that you deal with stressful situations. Find an opportunity this weekend to get them involved with their friends and talk about good social relationships.
What have you done to show your child how to deal with stress?
Temcheff, C. E., Serbin, L. A., Martin-Storey, A., Stack, D. M., Hastings, P., Ledingham, J., & Schwartzman, A. E. (2011). Childhood aggression, withdrawal and likeability, and the use of health care later: A longitudinal study. Canadiam Medical Association Journal 183,(18), 2095-2101.
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