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Calming Down: Advice for Parents

Pass the Antacid!

Your stomach is churning, your head is splitting, and your sense of humor has gone AWOL. Reach for the antacid — you deserve some relief. Then, start converting that negative energy into strategy and action. Anger, worry, and regret won't solve anything, nor will ruminating about a problem for hours. "Easier said than done," you might be thinking. True, it's not easy to break out of the stress response, especially if that's how you've been reacting to challenges for some time, but it can be done. You can train yourself to choose a different response when life throws a few boulders in your path. In deciding your response, consider three things. First, you can alter your physical response to stress (heart rate, blood pressure, etc.) by invoking the relaxation response with meditation, prayer, self-hypnosis, and empowering thoughts. Second, all problems are not "fixable." Some things that we worry about are simply beyond our control. Considering how you can convince an angry customer that you deserve a second chance might be very fruitful, but worrying about whether it's going to rain on your daughter's wedding day is not productive. Some concerns you just have to surrender. Also, sometimes we "overwork" a problem that's already been fixed. If you've apologized, made amends, done whatever you could, let it go. Replaying the whole scene over and over will not help and the regret will just eat away at you. Third, not all problems are your responsibility to fix. Worries about whether your son makes the team, your sister's divorce goes well, or a friend gets a raise he deserves are all out of your sphere of influence. If the problem belongs to someone else, don't steal it. Pray for a positive outcome, provide advice if it is requested, or offer empowering comments, but then let the other person handle it. So when a problem appears, leave your body out of it, fix it (if it's yours to fix), or forget it (if it's already fixed or belongs to someone else).

  1. Let off Steam Before You Implode
  2. Don't Wait to Exhale
  3. Stand up for Yourself
  4. Reframe the Problem
  5. Get out of the Blame Game
  6. Choose Your Response to Offense
  7. Keep the Faith
  8. Negotiate
  9. Focus Outward
  10. Climb to the Balcony

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A series of "quick-lifts" excerpted from Recharge in Minutes, ©2003, by Suzanne Zoglio, Ph.D.

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