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Six Ways to Avert Breakdowns in Kids: Self Work as Preventative Medicine

Children learn through observing and we teach (often unconsciously) through modeling. Our lives, filled with information, screens, appointments, caffeine, and too little time might be manageable for grown-ups, but are often overwhelming for kids. Of course they adapt. Of course, like us, they learn to process the intensity. Meltdowns though, especially for those who are particularly sensitive, will happen. Here are a few ways to model behaviors that work to gently offset some of the burnout that comes with being a kid these days.

1. Don’t poop with your cellphone. Take conscious breaks from it. Don’t look at it while you’re waiting in line or make it the first thing you look at when you wake up.

2. Let yourself be tired, anxious even. Sometimes we have to fight against exhaustion so we can move through the lives we’ve built for ourselves. Not always. Sometimes we can fall apart a little and be seen doing it. This, in turn, gives kids permission to connect with what they are feeling. Resisting how we feel compounds suffering.

3. Go outside right now. Smell flowers. Be like a dog and pretend as though everything, even the funk, is at least interesting. (Don’t smell flowers at dog peeing level, unless you have to. I’ve made this mistake.)

4. Make mistakes. Or don’t be afraid to. We’re designed to learn this way. Making mistakes gracefully empowers children to problem solve through trial and error. Independently, creatively, offering tools to mitigate the emotional experience that comes with failure.

5. Listen, especially when you feel like you need to say something.

6. Let yourself be bored. Let your kids be bored. Cherish boredom.

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