When families face overwhelming stress, spending time together talking through the problems is a major help. By modeling good coping strategies, parents can teach their children that there are better ways to deal with a problem than to plunk themselves in front of the television or use other escapist methods that distract but don't solve.
Work it Out
Physical activity is an effective way to work out some of the pent-up frustration or anxiety that family members are feeling. Support your kids and help them cope with stress by taking them out to play basketball or going for a family run. By spending time with your kids, you're reminding them that there is support available if they need it. Don't pick something too competitive, as that may cause some people even more stress.
Make Beautiful Music Together
If your family members play an instrument or sing, try a family jam session to work through feelings. Playing music is an effective way to express emotion while keeping the mind active and the hands busy. If your child shows up in a foul mood but isn't in the mood to share his feelings, let him pick the music you play. If there's a theme in the music, whether it be angst-ridden love songs or angry rock, you'll gain insight into his mood and what may be causing it.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
When everyone's in a sunny mood, practice a calming muscle relaxation exercise as a group. That way, when someone is having problems thinking clearly or coping with difficulties, he'll have an easier time falling into the familiar pattern of relaxing. Everyone should stand or sit comfortably but must remain straight. Ask everyone to close their eyes and breathe deeply three times through their noses. Very slowly, everyone must think of their feet and relax, thinking of body parts above there as each part relaxes. Move up from the feet, thinking of everything from the calves and shins up to the tongue, eyes, forehead and even the top of the head.
If you have very young family members, you can try the turtle together. When your child has nervous energy or is angry, this can be an ideal way to cope with negative feelings that could get her into trouble. Everyone needs to stand with feet apart. Crouch so your bottom is over your heel, possibly sitting on them, depending on how limber you are. It's okay if you fall over -- just try again. In fact, a tumble may add a little humor to a stressful time. When you're in position, wrap your arms around your knees and give yourself a hug. Count to five. Teach your child that she can do this for as long as she needs to calm down. If family members have enough balance and everyone seems calmer and happier, encourage some laughter by asking if anyone can waddle around the room in that position.
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