Things you can do to be a supportive parent

You can't take on their problems — they need to face it themselves. But here's how you can guide them

Published: 1:26 PM July 20, 2018

Updated: 3:23 PM August 3, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Childhood is often painted as a fun, carefree time.

But growing pains during this critical point can lead to stress and pressure. Aside from school, extracurricular activities, and relationships, there’s now the added pressure from seeing seemingly perfect lives on social media.

Experiencing stress may prepare them for adulthood, but if they’re not armed with important coping mechanisms, they may get easily overwhelmed.

As parents, you’re expected to guide your children. But we know that sometimes it’s hard to get through to them. You may feel at a loss as to how to help them, or be even unaware that they’re struggling.

Read on for a few ways you can show support for a child dealing with stress and pressure.

Resist the urge to lecture or nag

Should your child choose to share their problems, be an objective listener.

“Talk about what you observe, then have them start to tell you,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Robin Goodman. “Don’t assume what’s going on with your child.”

When your child talks, just listen. Allow them to verbalize their feelings. Talking with you should feel safe. Don’t add to the stress and pressure by showing judgment.

Should your child ask for advice, psychologist Lisa Damour says, “What parents can do to be helpful is figure out what kind of stress the teen is facing. Is it something they could tackle, or something they can do nothing about? They have to accept that that is the reality, then do things that let them recharge.”

Get active with the whole family

Getting active releases happy hormones. And according to this study, visiting natural environments can help reduce stress levels.

Don’t just push them to go outdoors — go with them! Take the lead by inviting the whole family to go on an outdoor hike or beach trip.

Make your home a haven

Your house should serve as a getaway from the outside world. Set a good example — as much as possible, don’t bring your work home. Show your kids that you know how to slow down.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Ali Mattu also stresses the importance of sleeping early. “Sleeping early restores your brain and removes toxins that build up during the day,” he says. “If you’re sleep-deprived, it’s gonna make it harder for you to focus, learn, and deal with your emotions.”

Then get the day off to a good start by preparing breakfast for the whole family. According to Mattu, a healthy breakfast should be full of whole grains and proteins.

Allow them to recharge on their own

Sometimes kids don’t really want to talk about their problems with their parents. In this case, it’s best to give them space so they can unwind on their own. Give them the freedom to relax and recover from stress their own way.

Damour also suggests supporting positive coping strategies, such as mindfulness, happy distractions, and mood-boosting activities.

Show, not tell

Whether they choose to share their problems or not, make your presence felt. Let them feel you care instead of saying it. It can be as simple as keeping them company, offering to watch movies with them, even making them their favorite comfort food. 

Your kids might shy away from touchy-feely declarations of love, but they’ll appreciate these kinds of gestures.

If they’re feeling pressure from the need to succeed, or stressing about failure, assure them there’s no set definition for success. Making mistakes is part of the process — and everyone’s going through it. —