The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and How our Kids are Affected

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, July 25, 2018
By Nicole Herdocia-Oria , RMFTI, MS
At times it is easy to be negatively affected by insignificant stressors because we internalize and allow them to alter our moods. Often, we are so focused on what’s going wrong that we are unable to appreciate the positive, and can only see the inconveniences, however small they may be. When we allow our stressors to overwhelm us, we can become blinded to the blessings that surround us. Beyond the effects on the individual, our actions and responses to stressors can be further detrimental to our loved ones, a fact which presents a particular issue for those of us in care of children. It is our job as parents/care takers to control our bad and ugly and promote the good for our children’s well-being.

If mom is angry, tired, frustrated or stressed, a child can quickly interpret that as “Mom is angry at me, tired because of me, or frustrated and stressed because of something I did.” Our children reflect our moods because they process what we’re feeling. They can absorb our tension, anxiety and unhappiness, which can impede them to grow and thrive in a healthy way. Luckily, they can just as aptly soak up our more positive dispositions, and pleasant countenance, and it is our job as parents to control what we reflect for our little sponges to absorb. The way we can improve on that is by focusing on ourselves: Indulging in self-care, focusing on the positivity around us instead of criticizing ourselves and focusing on the negative and stop beating ourselves up when things don’t go according to plan. We must remember that while we struggle with our negative perspectives, bad moods, striving for perfection and unrealistic expectations our children do too.

“Our children are our garden. They absorb our stress, just as they absorb our peace. They absorb our negativity just as they absorb our joy. And we have the power to control what they absorb, but first, we must tend to ourselves.” – Rachel Macy Stafford

If we allow our happiness to be based on external measures like plans running on schedule, looking a certain way or completing all of our daily tasks and goals we will inevitably be in a perpetual state of disappointment and stress. These feelings will be directly absorbed by our children.

Sometimes trivial stressors can accumulate and reek havoc on us if we let them. When we start to feel overwhelmed, take a minute to breathe, count your blessings and be grateful for all the good stuff. This will help you realize that the stressful things are all small stuff in comparison.

To help with this, ask yourself grounding questions to help you realign your perspective like:

How important is this really? What are the actual consequences (if any) of this current situation? Is there is anything I can be doing to improve this right now?

If the answer is “no” or “not really” to any of these questions we should accept that it is out of our control, there is nothing we can do about it at this time so we can shift our focus on something positive.

For example: Living in a hectic city with traffic and obstacles, time can definitely be a major stressor. It is important to accept that there are many things we simply cannot control and focus on what we can. When we can accept that we can’t control everything, we have the ability to make the best of the situation and put our efforts into improving what we actually do have control over.

When we take the time to analyze and reflect appropriately we may determine that the situation is much less dire than we originally felt it was and allow ourselves to proceed in a less stressed way while painting a clearer, better, and more realistic perspective that will impact us and our loved ones in a more positive way. When we allow ourselves to see all the positivity that surrounds us, the little things like our favorite song playing on the radio, the sun coming out, or a simple gesture like a smile, suddenly will be all the more sweet. We have to remind ourselves to laugh at mistakes and at the hiccups along the way because they are not the end of the world although it can feel like it is sometimes, if we let it.

To help accomplish tending to ourselves and being aware of the positive we can take steps to assist us in living in the here and now instead of always worrying about how our todays will affect our tomorrows.

Step 1: Reminding ourselves to ask our grounding questions

Step 2: Accept our imperfections and what we can’t control

Step 3: When our negative thoughts start up we can silence them with positive affirmations and counting our blessings.

Step 4: Acceptance of ourselves and of our surroundings especially when things are not going according to plan.

Step 5: Indulge in self-care and tending to ourselves as we do our loved ones. We need to give ourselves a break every now and then, nurture ourselves and make sure our needs are being met before we can take care of anything else.

Step 6: Changing our daily goals to more meaningful ones like spending quality time with loved ones: laughing and playing can help shift our perspective to a positive one which will allow us to reflect that to our children and families.

The more we put these small steps into practice the more they will become habits and become easier for us.  Always make it a point to be mindful of yourself, your family and how they absorb your mood and perceptions. Make it a point to check in with yourself and reflect often.

“Check yo self before you wreck yo self.” – Ice Cube
It’s amazing where we can come across positive insight when we are open to it.