Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

Gimme, gimme, gimme my toy … teaching your child stress tolerance can be more labor intensive than saying yes and an important part of her/his development.

I recently sat in a coffee shop beside a mother with two young toddlers.
Mom was chatting with a friend and the toddlers were happy to be kept occupied with a cartoon they were watching on Mom’s iPhone.

Only moments before, Mom’s friend had wanted to see the iPhone. When Mom had handed her the phone, one child immediately grew restless. She said to her friend: “You better give it back, because Jimmy (fictitious name) gets impatient quickly.” And in fact, he almost immediately started wailing “Gimme, gimme, gimme…”

I’m relating this incident not to criticize the mother or her children. But it made me wonder if today’s children will have lower stress tolerance when they are adults than previous generations.

How will they learn to be present in the moment with themselves and their thoughts if they are constantly entertained, soothed and distracted?
How will they learn, if so many of us as adults are not able to model stress tolerance?

We live in a world of instant gratification. Fast food, fast service… for many wanting something means wanting it now. We live stressed lives, constantly on the clock.

I regularly hear my clients share how overwhelmed they feel. A full time job, children, a mortgage, regular sex with a partner, exercise, home cooked meals, soccer practices, ballet classes, continuing education…the list is endless.

In order to cope, many shut down or cut themselves off from their body. Depending on the situation, they give up, get angry or irritable or try to escape.

Escape can sometimes be as close as the next drive thru at Tim Hortons or a trip to the fridge. Emotional eating is often an attempt to escape from uncomfortable feelings and what Geneen Roth is calling “The Voice” in her latest book “Women, Food and God.”

“The Voice” running in your head telling you that you’re supposed to be a perfect parent, partner and employee. And it doesn’t stop here, often it also tells you that you should be slim, trim and fit (let’s not forget sexy).

Because if you’re not thin… then you’re already failing. You are already not good enough.

And so the vicious cycle starts. Unbearable feelings and demands that are overwhelming. Standards, which are impossible to reach.
We need a quick fix, because there is so much to do. Here’s a drink. Have a smoke. Go shopping. Eat this fabulous food… and you will be as happy as the people you see in the commercials. The beautiful people who are having fun and coping with life with a smile on their face.

Learning to develop healthy coping mechanisms to the stressors of life is a first step to heal emotional eating or other forms of addiction. People who have an emotional relationship with food and a low mood tolerance often resort to binge eating, vomiting, or excessive exercising to get relief from intense feelings.

It takes energy and patience to sit through children’s “growing stages” and temper tantrums while they learn to wait and self-soothe.

Don’t forget to breathe and tune in with what is happening for you in those moments. Acknowledge your feelings to yourself and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Yes, it is hard to wait and feel uncomfortable. But the more we learn to breathe and self-soothe, the less uncomfortable we are.

I invite you to check out Sarah Zeldman’s , free ‘Stress-Relief-Kit-for-Moms’.

If you are a stressed parent, giving yourself permission to relax, unwind and recharge in a healthy way, allows you to take better care of yourself and consequently your family.

Furthermore, you will be modeling and teaching your children how to develop a higher tolerance to stress without resorting to unhealthy or addictive behavior.

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