At some point, your kids will have to shoulder responsibility. They will have coworkers who they can’t stand and bosses who snap at them. There will be the big tests and the big presentations. The ups and downs of relationships. The phone call they don’t want to make. The projects that come down right to the wire.
It’s not a question of whether your kids will ever feel stressed. The question is how will they respond to these everyday stressors? Will they fold under pressure? Will they get angry? Will they cower in the corner? Will they try to avoid difficulty altogether?
It’s impossible to know until we see them operate in these situations, right? Wrong! We know exactly how they will respond to stress and pressure—the way you do.
Remember, your kids are always watching. You are modeling a version of the person they will inevitably become. Knowing that, it should be clear that one of the most important things you have to show them is how to respond to stress and pressure. You have to show them how to bear adversity, how to stay poised and under control when they are surrounded by chaos. You have to show them that it is not external circumstances that matter, but how we respond to them that counts. How we deal with difficult emotions, how we articulate what we’re feeling, these are the things that will make all the difference when they get older. Which is why right now, they have to see us taking on responsibility, navigating difficulty, admitting mistakes, asking for help.
As we’ve said, you are making allowances every day. What you pour out is soaking into them. Your emotions, moods, choices and the examples you set are affecting your kids, always. How you manage the stressors in your life is setting your kids up, for better or worse, for how they will manage the stressors in their own lives. You owe it to yourself and to them to manage it healthily and effectively.