How to Teach Your Kids to Slow Down

Take Charge on 11.06.12

Photo: openDemocracy/Creative Commons

"Where's the fire?"

My dad used to ask me that question every morning as I hurried to prepare for school. If he happens to be over on any given school day, he still asks me that question as I hurry to pick my kids up from school, scrambling to grab my keys, wallet, iPhone. My response is always the same. I stop in my tracks. I pay attention to my movements. I slow down. Mostly, I recognize that I'm rushing and wonder what caused me to get behind.

We parents are always on the go. We have places to be at set times and if we miss the mark, our well-oiled machines become discombobulated. Our kids are involuntary passengers on our ride. But here's the thing: When we're moving like our hair's on fire, our kids are moving right along with us. Soon enough, our children are the ones rushing around as they get ready for school and to one of their three (or five) extracurricular activities. It we want to teach them how to slow down, we have to be the ones to slow down first.

The very nature of "rushing around" causes stress, and studies show children definitely pick up on it. To teach your kids to slow down, you need to lead by example. In doing so, you're creating a healthier environment while also teaching your kids a few valuable life skills:

Prepare ahead of time.

Think about what's causing the rush for both you and your kids. In the morning, is it because your kids' backpacks aren't ready? Or after school, are they scrambling to find their sports gear for practice? The concept of getting ready the night before school and/or work -- It totally works. Ten minutes of preparation can eliminate many moments of stress for kids and their parents.

Stay on task.

I've had many a morning where my kids are ready for school and I'm the one who puts us behind schedule. And suddenly they are forced to rush because of me. Checking email, reading online news, tossing a load of laundry in the wash before you leave the house -- with so much to do, it's all too easy to become distracted at moments when you need to have zoom focus. Stay on task. And if you can't stay focused then…

Don't take on so much in the first place.

We often read and hear about how kids are over-scheduled. The natural by-product of over-scheduled kids is over-scheduled parents. Some kids may thrive with a full agenda of extracurricular activities. But if it's causing a stress on your life balance, it's time to reassess and prioritize what your family can handle.

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