As half of the Australian population is now (June/July 2021) in some sort of lockdown, many feel the stress levels rising. The uncertainty, the lack of freedom, the mental health impact, the pandemic that is just going on and on and on. It is getting to many of us.
Is there a difference in how the temperaments handle stress?
A big, resounding YES!
As we all handle stress differently, this can actually lead to more stress in our zoo-homes. Why? Because we might think others don’t take it as serious as us, or too serious or we might react in different ways than what we normally would when life is calmer and more predictable.
So, let’s have a look at how each temperament handles stress.
First off, our Monkeys. As Monkeys like fun and games, contact with people and jokes, they might often just ignore heavy conversations and stressful situations. So, during this time they might just ignore it, joke about it, or bounce out mentally and find something fun to do to relieve their stress. This might manifest in more video games, reading, social media, Netflix, online shopping, or anything not ‘heavy’. How can we help our Monkeys cope? Make sure there is still enough positive energy, fun, games and jokes in your house!
The Lions are another story. Normally, they thrive under ‘positive stress’, like a project where they have control. If, however, it is something outside of their control, like a pandemic and a lockdown, Lions might become more frustrated and show it in more aggressive and insensitive behaviour, like outbursts and picking fights with their siblings. One of the best ways to help your lion cub during this time, is to make sure they can let out their anger and frustration. One of the best ways to do this, is with some vigorous physical exercise. Yes, you need to tire them out to get rid of all their build-up energy.
Unlike the Lions, Meerkats are very sensitive people, so they easily feel overwhelmed, anxious and worried. Often they will become even more organised, just to feel that they are doing something to manage themselves and mitigate the danger around them. They might be the ones who feel the need to declutter their wardrobe, rearrange their bedroom and check the pantry to see if there is enough food. They might struggle to sit still and will fidget and find another task they feel they need to do. But, if the feelings become too much, they might break down and cry. Which can sometimes be a good thing, because they often feel better afterwards. That is, if we give them the space and time to let is all out. They will also need lots and lots of reassurance that everything will be OK, that they will be OK, that everyone is struggling a bit, that they are not falling behind in school and that you still love them, just as they are.
Koalas will show their stress the least of all the temperaments. They will just withdraw and become more quiet than usual. We as parents have to be very careful in our observations, as koalas can completely shut down emotionally if the stress is over a long period of time. Keep an eye on their eating and sleeping patterns and other behaviour. Any changes need some careful investigation. But, if pushed too far, Koalas can blow up like a pressure cooker. We think it is out of nowhere, but they have a long ‘fuse’ and then just let go. One of the best ways to help our Koala Joey’s cope during these times, is to stick to routines and traditions as much as possible. Keep on having set mealtimes at the table if that is what you normally would do, go for that walk in the late afternoons, read the story at bedtime, wash the dog on a Saturday, whatever it might be.
Even though all temperaments will handle stress differently, it will be wise for us as parents to minimise their stress as much as possible in the first place.
Kids look to us as their parents to see how we are handling stress, the pandemic and lockdown. I suggest parents don’t check the news constantly and don’t talk about the lockdown and the pandemic constantly, especially not in front of the kids. Find something fun to do while at home, do some exercise together as a family, give them reassurance that they are OK, read a book or build a puzzle, or even just give them some space and time to be.
I’ve discussed how the kids handle their stress, but we are parents also have a certain temperament. Maybe it is worthwhile to take a moment and think how you handle stress during this time yourself and how you are portraying it to your kids.
If you would like to have a chat about temperaments and stress, I offer FREE 20 min calls to anyone who would like to know how to help their kiddies handle stress. It doesn’t have to be in a pandemic. It can be about any stressful situation for them.