About The Author
Grandmaster Michael Bogdanski, 8th Dan, is
Chief Instructor at Quest Martial Arts in Putnam, Connecticut. He has
been training over 50 years and is also an expert on child development
with a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in School
De-stress your kids (and yourself)
If you haven't felt any
stress during this pandemic then you must be superhuman. This time in
our lives will be recorded as one of the most emotionally draining ever.
The shift of our culture, the change in our daily routines, and social
isolation all contribute to the stress families are feeling. We may not
be able to totally remove stress but we surely can take steps to reduce
it. Here are a few suggestions.
Step 1 - Healthy eating. Your body is your temple. You have all
heard this mantra about food. Imagine you owned a million-dollar
racehorse. You probably wouldn't feed it candy and cookies all day.
Fruit and vegetables are definitely the prescriptions for fueling the
body for energy and clarity. Prime your body for good health and
immunity from disease by eating fresh fruits and veggies.
Step 2 - Exercise. Your kids don't need the Marine Corp workout
but they need to move. Climbing trees, throwing a ball, walking through
the woods are all great spring activities. Since we are closed at our
martial arts school we have been doing classes on zoom. Parents are
quite happy their kids have this regular routine of exercise and healthy
Step 3 - Reduce electronics. Being social creatures we have
turned more to Facebook and Instagram to get our social fix and see what
is going on in the world. It's natural to keep up with your friends and
relatives but please don't overdo it. If you or your kids spend too much
time on Facebook there is a tool built into the app that can help you
limit your time. Go to the settings page on either app and select either
"Your Time on Facebook" or "Your Activity on Instagram". At the top is a
dashboard showing average time spent on the app you are using.
Underneath is the option to set up a daily reminder that will send an
alert when you have reached the time limit you have allowed yourself.
Step 4 - Talk about it. In these circumstances, kids can easily
pick up on the climate of fear through the media or conversations in
your household. Information is knowledge and it is best to talk about
the pandemic in age-appropriate language to reassure your children they
are staying safe. In our martial arts program, we teach students how to
deal with stress in a self-defense confrontation. The first step is to
address fear. We use the acronym F.E.A.R. - false expectations appearing
real. Kids need to realize that their life is mostly not at risk.
Step 5 - Take a breath. When we get anxious we change the way we
breathe. Quest martial arts classes begin and end with an exercise that
teaches us to focus, maintain inner calm and develop mental clarity by
taking slow deep breaths. The breathing is done by breathing slowly in
through our nose and out through our mouth. Breathing techniques and
methods are directly related to reducing or increasing stress.
Step 6 - Sleep. A tired child is easily frustrated by simple,
daily tasks. Here is a basic rule of thumb: 6 to 12-year-olds need 9 to
12 hours/day and 13 to 18-year-olds need 8 to 10 hours/day. Dear
parents, you know how irritable you can be if you are sleep deprived.
Adults that are sleep deprived exhibit the same symptoms as people that
have had several alcoholic drinks.
Step 7 - Sharpen the saw. This is a concept from the book, "Seven
Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. Two people are
chopping wood. One worker takes a break every hour while the other works
furiously at the task. At the end of the day, the person who took the
break had a substantially greater pile. The worker who had less wood
asked his friend, "How in the world did you end up with more wood cut
than me?" he asked curiously. His friend responded, "You didn't notice
that every time I stopped to rest I sharpened my saw."Take a break and
just do something that makes you happy"!