It’s that time of year! June is here, the weather is heating up, and that means school is out for the summer! We all love summer vacations and quality family time, but let’s face it, no one knows how to push our buttons more than our family. Between kids being at home more often and planning trips and beach days with the family, the summer can mean sun and stress for a lot of us. That is why this month on The Stress Less Show, our theme is all about family obligations. To start us off this week, I brought parent and teen coach, Tracey Lukes, on the show to talk about managing stress in our relationships with our kids.
Tracey’s work as a parent and teen coach began after working through how her own childhood and family life had affected her as an adult. With the stress of moving around a lot with her parents, Tracey spent much of her teenage years feeling like she didn’t fit in anywhere which led to a rebellious streak and a traumatic experience.
“I was drinking, I was smoking and I ended up getting into a very difficult situation where I was date raped at age 14. A huge piece of why I do the work that I do is because of the amount of stress that I carried as a teenager and the amount of stress that my mom was going through raising a teenager who was rebelling and not really understanding me.”
As Tracey got older, she started working with a coach to help her as she made decisions in her adulthood. Through working with her coach, she began to understand the connection between the choices she made as an adult and the pain she experienced as a child.
“Once I was able to really get that clear what I realized was is families need help. Because there's no manual on how to be a parent, and the stress of unresolved stuff carries into every facet of our life.”
These revelations led Tracey to start her work helping parents and teenagers relate to one another. Through her work with her clients and her own experiences, Tracey was able to give us a few tips this week for building better relationships with our kids and release some of the family stress that strains those relationships.
Tip #1: Get Support When You Feel Triggered
There is no rule book on how to be a parent. Much of the decisions we make when raising kids is based on our own experiences and feelings - both the good and bad ones. As a result, Tracey notes that sometimes, the experiences we have may start to show up in our reactions to our kids.
“As a parent, our children trigger things in us that we have not necessarily resolved... They may be wounds that we've had or experiences we have. They get triggered by our children's experiences and by the way they behave.”
It’s not always easy for us to see these triggers, but identifying them is key to changing the relationship with our kids. That is why Tracey recommends finding someone who can help you investigate those triggers.
“Get some kind of support from a coach, from a therapist, someone who can kind of unpack and figure out how to move forward, and understand what those triggers are where they come from and reframe them to move forward.”
Tip #2: The Clean It Up Formula
Tracey’s next tip is a big one in changing the relationship we have with our kids - and can even be applied to other relationships in our lives. Sometimes, we will be triggered by something our kids do and our emotions get the best of us (cue the screaming and yelling). It happens to everyone and Tracey’s clean it up formula is all about accepting that there will be times when the stress and emotion will get the better of us when we are raising our kids.
“Parenting is not about perfection, it is about our ability to recover back to connection when things go wrong as quickly as possible. And so, when we can let go of perfection and step into just taking responsibility for the mistakes we make - cleaning it up and moving forward - the stress doesn't need to follow us or get as intense.”
The clean it up formula involves talking with our kids after we’ve blown up. In this conversation, we take responsibility for our behavior, explain what is happening in our minds and how we have interpreted their actions so that we can open up the conversation with our kids and reach an understanding of what is really going on.
“Many times when we are triggered, we're making up a story… It's really necessary to let them know what we make up and to give them an opportunity to respond. And then to design how we want to be moving forward.”
Tip #3: Take a Break Before You Clean It Up
Having a clean it up conversation is necessary for rebuilding our relationship with our kids after we blow up and scream. However, Tracey stresses the importance of not rushing into this conversation immediately after a big argument or stressful situation.
“You cannot enter into any kind of clean it up conversation when you are still triggered… When we're all emotional and we're all in the moment, it's important to be able to step back get out of the amygdala hijack - out of the emotion of it. Step into the calm down and then go and clean it up the kids.”
Once we have had the time to process the initial emotional reactions, Tracey notes that then we are able to enter a more understanding state of curiosity of the problem and forgiveness so we can grow and empower our kids to do the same.
“[It’s about] standing in our truth and calling our kids to their truth too, and naming what's going on instead of shoving it under the rug. Because the bottom line is whatever we don't deal with, it will come back until we do.”
If you feel like you could use a little help finding your triggers and stepping out of that emotional state in your relationship with your kids, you can learn more about Tracey Lukes and sign up for a complimentary 30-minute conversation with her by going to her website, traceylukes.com.
This episode of The Stress Less Show was sponsored by The Stress Less Space, an intentional space for women to relax and recharge away from the chaos of everyday life. Learn more about The Stress Less Space by clicking this link!