Dr. Samantha Scott, Ph.D.
Just relax! Ever say this to your child or teen and get the blank stare or, worse, the eye-roll? You think you are suggesting something nice and being supportive but your child says you just don’t get it! Well, it may be that your child actually doesn’t understand what you are asking him to do or how or how to do it. Our kids are SO busy! From school, to sports, to clubs, to social events to ….. social media, when is the last time you saw your child unplug and really unwind? And, by the way, vegging out in front of video games or Netflix doesn’t count! Does your child really know how to relax?! And, why is this important?
When I see children and teens in my office that are overwhelmed, stressed out, depressed, “lazy/unmotivated” this is a huge red flag that their body is shutting down. It’s exhausted and depleted all of its resources. What’s worse, is that most children not only struggle to generate ways to relax but they don’t understand the importance. They see taking a relaxation break as lazy or what I hear most frequently, “I don’t have time to take a break.” Parents, this is NOT OK! Children and teens who say this are running themselves ragged and are actually probably wasting way more time trying to push through their exhaustion rather than taking time for themselves which would eventually make them more efficient.
What can you do? Help your child generate ideas of ways to relax. Put relaxing items in a box if you have to! Engage in fun and relaxing activities with your child. Bake cookies, make a scrapbook, do a puzzle together! And then encourage your child to do something relaxing every day! We know they are busy but 10 minutes here or there is definitely do able! And, remind them that giving their brain a break for 10 minutes might actually make them get homework done faster! But also remember, your child is watching you! Be sure to model this behavior and when you do relaxing activities together, be sure to put your phone and technology away too!