Why do I keep flip-flopping between healthy, lifestyle choices and psychology ideas? Because they all reside in the one body we are given (in this lifetime). So let's leave shift our focus this week and move towards a few parenting reminders.
This is all stuff that you know. Nothing new here- just a few ideas that are worth remembering. I'm just a mom/wife/sister/daughter/ friend who reads a lot of random stuff, retains it, and regurgitates it for your benefit. I would have to say that holding onto all of this random information in my head is probably why I frantically run around my house at least twice a day searching for my phone/keys/credit card/eye glasses. Or maybe I can't remember where I put stuff because of the repertoire of country western songs playing over and over in my head. That's what happens when your parents leave the radio on for your dog. For fifteen years. Ahhhh...a tangent. Another time.
Anyhooooo...I recently read about a study that measured cortisol levels in children as they completed tasks. The children were separated into two groups. One group had parents who helped them complete the age-appropriate task, while the other children completed the task independently. The children who's parents helped them were observed to have an elevation in their cortisol levels when measured after the task was completed.
Cortisol is that hormone that regulates your body's flight or fight system, aka adrenal response, in your sympathetic nervous system. Cortisol spikes in situations of stress or danger. When it isn't excreted through a physical process, like powering your body to run from a lion or crying it out through tears, it clogs up your arteries. Hence, people who have heart attacks from stress. Cortisol promotes arterial aging and narrows the arteries leading to the heart. Basically, without too much scientific info, cortisol, in excess, is bad.
We're all more stressed out these days. Whether it's from living in the city, not getting enough physical exercise and restful sleep, from worrying about a million things, or multi-tasking like no previous generation could fathom in their wildest dreams, life isn't getting simpler. As adults, we can make lifestyle choices to decrease our stress. As parents, we can facilitate our children's resilience to stress by raising them to be confident and competent.
What does that look like? It looks like a slightly askew Shabbos table that your five year old set all by himself. It looks like smushy chocolate chip cookies formed by independent, seven year old hands while you look away from the mess and mellay in your kitchen. It's a kid who can pick out their own (slightly crazy, wildly mismatched) outfit or even spend an entire year wearing a (washed daily), tiger costume. Ahem. Speaking from personal experience here.
Sometimes we want to help our kids do whatever task is at hand because it's easier for us, it takes less time, or we just don't want to deal with their mood during and after the activity if it's not successful. Been there, done that. But sometimes we manage to put our schedules aside and engage our patience and just let them muster their way through it. We trust them that they can achieve, and in turn, they learn to trust themselves. If they fail, oh well. Then they also learn how to handle that. It's not perfect? Fine. Perfection is overrated. These messages are what they will carry forth and it will build them internally, and they will shine externally.
On that note, time to go relinquish my kitchen to an amateur cook who makes a mean omelet.