Empathy and Stress

Posted on Posted in DrDownload

The AAP recently sent me brochures about stress management for children. Oddly, I found that reading about stress management only makes my stress worse!  Please accept my apologies for asking you to read about it, but then do read on…

Personally, I don’t want to read about how to manage stress. I know that difficult things are part of life, and stress is a normal response to challenges. I want less stress instead of better ways to manage too much of it.  That said, I wouldn’t mind having a little more empathy for the stress I can’t avoid.  I want someone along the way to say, “Wow, that’s a tough problem. I’m so sorry. I’m here for you; tell me more.”  Kids today need both ideas about how to manage stress and opportunities to practice using those ideas. They also need less stress, but that’s a different blog altogether.  When I figure out that secret, I will surely share it!

I believe babies and young children need an empathetic kind of stress relief from parents. Babies want to feel our certainty that tummy troubles are going to pass any minute. School age children want us to say, “that IS a lot of homework; I feel for you. And I believe in you. You can do it.”

Dr. Charles Fay and his wife have made a living teaching parents skills to make a difference in the lives of our children. His video clip is a stark reminder that our children need to know that we ARE sorry for the stresses in life (theirs and ours!). Our empathy is the stepping stone to encouraging children to dig deep for their own solutions to a stressful problem. When we believe in our innate ability to solve a problem, the root of all stress is weakened.

Watch and tell us what you think. We welcome your feedback.  Click here to watch Dr. Fay on Youtube

Written and reviewed by Gayle Schrier Smith, MD and her Partners In Pediatrics.

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