By Kathy Rivera
This column appeared in January 11, 2023 issue of Anton Media newspapers
All of us have experienced unprecedented challenges in the last three years, resulting in heightened levels of anxiety and stress. So much is out of our control, and that can feel overwhelming. But there are steps you can take to safeguard your wellbeing and that of your family.
As you welcome in 2023, take the opportunity to put into place some of these eight resolutions to start the New Year off right.
- Tune in and turn off: Sure, your kids need to be told to put the phones away at the dinner table and when they’re doing homework. But they’re not the only ones who overuse the tech gadgets. When you are with your kids, be fully present. The years really do fly by.
- Be a role model: Believe it or not, your children and teens look to you as their example of how to act in the world. For your sake and theirs, eat healthfully and exercise, spend more time outdoors, and be sure to…
- Put self-care in your list of priorities: As parents, we sometimes think our job is to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our children. But if you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have nothing left to give them. Take the time to engage in activities that make you feel happy, confident and healthy.
- Don’t compare yourself to other parents or your kids to other kids: Facebook and other social media platforms make it look like every parent has the perfect child—the honor student, star athlete, community volunteer, etc. But these are just self-selected pieces of information and don’t paint a true picture. Every parent faces challenges, and no one is perfect.
- Don’t take the bait: Kids push our buttons, there’s no doubt about it. But when you respond to your tot’s tantrum with a tantrum of your own, it doesn’t help the situation and only creates more chaos. When they are acting up, take a deep breath and remember that the goal is to respond thoughtfully, not react impulsively. One way to hone this skill is to…
- Practice meditation. Numerous studies show that even a few minutes a day of meditation will help reduce your stress. Not sure how? Google “how to meditate” and you’ll find lots of helpful tips and videos. You can also google “meditation on Long Island” to find a group. And invite your kids to try it out, too! Let them know supercool celebrities and athletes like Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, Derek Jeter and LeBron James are big meditators.
- Listen closely and talk less: When our children come to us with problems, it’s our natural inclination to try to fix things for them. But the reality is, often what they need is just to be heard. Make a promise to yourself that you will listen to your kids and not jump in right away to solve the problem. To open the lines of communication, simply ask, How are you feeling?
- Pay attention and give praise: The way you communicate with your child not only teaches them how to communicate with others, it shapes their emotional development and how they build relationships later in life. Giving your child positive attention for good behavior can boost their self-esteem, improve your relationship and help your child understand the behaviors you like and want to see more often.
Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!
Bio: Kathy Rivera, LCSW, the Executive Director/CEO of North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, Long Island’s leading non-profit children’s mental health organization. To get help for your child or to support the Guidance Center’s lifesaving work, call (516) 626-1971 or visit www.northshorechildguidance.org.