Creative Child

Learn How to Slow Down in a Fast-Paced World

By David Aronsohn 

Daniel and Linda are loving, dedicated and educated parents; working professionals who have two children. As the holiday season approaches, they are experiencing what has become commonplace for a typical couple. They spend the majority of their time in a constant state of perpetual motion as they attempt to balance the demand of work and home.

When asked about what they want for the holidays, they smiled and told me of their recurring fantasy to rent a hotel room away from the kids for a night, not with the intention of any romantic rendezvous, but rather to get a good night's sleep. Their children also have significant demands on their time. They spend six hours in school and then, depending on the day, they have a revolving schedule of karate, music lessons, gym class and soccer, while at the same time trying to accommodate at least a play date a week for each child, as well as hitting the weekend birthday circuit. Half of the time, the kids are rushed home and are either too exhausted to eat, or too wired to go to bed at a reasonable time.

When I inquired about any possible ill effects such a schedule may have on their children, the parents were quick to point out that the children need to have a wide breadth of opportunities and experiences. Later I met with the oldest boy and during the course of our discussion I asked him what words he heard most often around his house. He replied, "Faster please!".

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We live in an age of amazing and advanced technology that make our lives less demanding and easier However as a society we have become more impatient, that is intolerant of anything that does not provide immediate gratification, or response. We spend endless hours frustrated and complaining that customer service is at a snail's pace, traffic moves too slowly, our computers do not download fast enough and that our children don't understand that if we ask them to do something, we mean that it needs to be done the very first time we ask. This stress we face as parents feels like it is exponentially increasing, yet if we don't have the ability to recognize and then shift emotional gears, our ability to parent our children is greatly diminished.

Imagine a sports car that is stuck in fifth gear. It has the ability to race to its destination and achieve great distances, but if it maintains that speed while trying to accommodate traffic and pedestrians, the results will inevitably be disastrous, or at minimum the car will not run efficiently by using only one of its many gears. As parents we tend to act like the car stuck in fifth gear; there's never enough time in the day to get everything done.

As a result our tempers grow shorter, empathy becomes burdensome and perspective is lost. Unfortunately, this toll can become like a set of dominos. As the pressures of the outside world are more demanding, there is a tendency to manifest the pressure by being hard on society at large. From there, the emotional chain reaction continues as we become more impatient and eventually take it out on our spouses and children.

Though each of these interactions has its own negative consequences, these emotional responses by parents can leave an especially deep impression on our kids. Children are impressionable and readily gain an understanding of how to conduct themselves and navigate the world by the lessons and modeling they observe. These lessons are especially indelible when parents are the teachers of the lessons. Children learn to emulate their parents' over reactions to stress, or to internalize their own stress, becoming perfectionists or symptomatic because they risk being the target of a parent's stress.

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Related Article: How to Create a Peaceful Home

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