Stressed Parents = Stressed Kids!!
​As parents today we have so many responsibilities and consequential stresses. Just contemplate a typical Monday morning – pack lunches, gets the kids out of bed, iron school uniforms, find the lost sock, make breakfast, get everyone in the car, only to realize you have left your bag in the house! Sounds like a normal Monday morning. You might even make it to work on time this morning. Bing! Text from your son – Mom there’s sport this afternoon, please bring my kit!!!!
Generation X (those of us between the ages of 34 and 47) are known to be the most stressed-out generation. If it were just us, that would be one thing. But unfortunately our children are also affected by our stressed out behavior.
The drawback with stress is that, for want of a better description, it is contagious. So it makes sense that a generation of stressed parents is raising a generation of stressed-out kids. Our children mirror our behavior. The idiom “Do as I say, not as I do” is a perfect example. Parents who scream and shout when they are angry, cannot discipline their children when they display the same behavior. So when you start a Monday morning in a state of stress, your child’s anxiety is firing up as well. Stress is influencing our physical, mental and emotional health, as well as that of our children.
If we cannot stop this cycle for ourselves, and our children, some family challenges lie ahead. There is evidence that a parent’s stress level can effect a child’s very makeup, including his or her risk of mood disorders, addictions, and even disorders like ADHD and autism.
Children, whom are living with stress at home and at school, shut down and learning cannot take place. This in itself adds to further stress for the parent and child. As parents we have to be observant of our children and take notice of any changes in their behavior. Here are a few tips to alleviate some of the potential or prevailing conditions of stress:

  1. Speak out. If you notice that your child seem angry about something that may have happened in the morning, don’t just ignore it, speak out immediately. “It seems like you are still mad about what happened this morning?” It’s a casual observation and shows that you are sympathetic and caring.
  2. Listen. Ask them to tell you what is wrong. Listen calmly, with interest, openness and patience. Try not to judge, lecture or blame. Listen to the whole story before you start asking questions.
  3. Comment briefly. Show that you understand by affirming their feelings, “No wonder you felt mad.”
  4. Label. Children do not always have the vocabulary they need to explain their feelings. So help them by giving them the correct vocabulary. Putting feelings into words helps your child to learn how to communicate their stress.
  5. Think about what to do. If there is a specific problem causing stress, talk about it with your child. Encourage them to think of solutions to the problem causing stress e.g. “What if you packed your school bag at night, and then I wouldn’t have to chase you around in the morning? Do you think that would help?”

   6. Just be there. Sometimes it just helps that you listened to your child’s problem. Always be there for them, even if they don’t want to talk. Do something that they like, go for a walk, watch a movie together etc.
Parents, I know and understand the busy lifestyles of today. I happened to time a conversation with my son, one where I gave him my full attention with a problem he was experiencing and it lasted 7 minutes. Not much to ask for, and possibly tighten the bond you have with your child as well as eliminate the potential of needless stress.
There is hope. As parents we need to solve the issues with our own stress and this will filter down to our children. Courtesy of Lee Anne Lavery

Timothy King

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