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12 Reasons How Your Stress May Be Affecting Your Child And How To Deal With It

Posted: September 14, 2020

Do you think your stress affects your child? Here’s why it might affect them more than you know and what you can do to avoid it affecting the child.

Is my stress affecting my child? Do I pass on the negativity and dullness to my children? If you are a parent who has been too stressed lately, these guilty thoughts are bound to take place.

Kids absorb everything happening around their environment. They are too raw and hence they easily grasp things, even they are not supposed to. Parental stress does affect children and it shows in their behavior.

In this blog, I will share a few experiences and how we can take control of the situation and our emotions, in order to save some sanity for our kids.

Is my stress affecting my child?

There are a lot of stressors around us – workload, family pressure, financial crisis, toxic relations, and some underlying health conditions. Kids are unaware of all this. All they see is how their parents react and behave in certain situations, how they speak with others, and how they handle the situation. That is where they pick up things.

No parent will teach these things to the kids but it is very natural for a kid to absorb such emotions. You can see it in there eyes. I have seen my six-year-old picking up things when I am sad or a little dull and she will ask me some questions which may not sound age-appropriate.

They understand things

They understand and observe everything and trust me they keep things inside them which turns out to be a disaster when they reach teenage. Mood swings, addictions, and loss of concentration to name few.

The most common reason for stress in kids is due to continuous arguments with in-laws or when husband and wife fight with each other causing a stressful environment at the house. Kids suffer a lot in such an atmosphere and they develop a perception about relationships and relatives. They attach labels and built their own meanings which go unnoticed but affect them in the future. It also hampers their mental well being.

If you ask me, is my stress affecting my child? It is a big yes, and here is how and what you can do to take control of the situation to avoid further damage.

How is my stress affecting my child?

Stress affects children in different ways at different stages. Maybe you are going through a bad phase, probably the worst and you are depressed or your anxiety levels are over the top.

Just imagine parents living with other mental illness like OCD, Bipolar disorder, or PTSD. How do they manage to stay balanced with their kids? It is one of the most challenging tasks for children to see their parents having a burnout often.

No matter what type of mental illness a parent suffers from, none of us wants to pass our anxiety to the kids. At the same time, we want to manage their mental health and not feel guilty about it as parents.

Of course, due to the lack of awareness and stigmas attached to mental health, many parents completely overlook the problem. They deny accepting that their behavior and anxiety can disturb their child and influence their perspective.

Is my stress affecting my child and how?

Your stress is affecting your child when you live with toxic in-laws and handling them becomes the most overbearing task for you. You pass on your frustration to your children and take out your anger on kids often.

Your stress is affecting your child when you are under continuous performance pressure at your work and you bring your work home. You give less time to your kids, and get irritated when they demand time.

Your stress affects your kids when they see your relationship getting affected and see you fighting and arguing daily. When they see a distance between their parents, it bothers them and changes the way they see relationships.

Your stress affects your kids when they see a lack of love and attention from your side as you are dealing with a lot of personal problems in face of an underlying illness or certain conditions, which are unknown to them.

Your stress affects your children when you pass the baggage of your expectations to them and create unwarranted stress on them to fulfil all the things you could not do and want them to do.

Is my stress affecting my child

What are common triggers leading to stress in parents?

Kids are naturally curious and intuitive and it is always surprising to see them notice everything at home.  As they observe and absorb everything around us, they also tend to internalise the stress their parents go through.

Is my stress affecting my child? Yes, and in which form?

Family stress

If you live in a joint family or with your in-laws, it is obvious that due to a lot of time and everybody at home, the tension and, the anxiety levels increases. Each one passes some comment or remark which adds to your stress. Kids are a part of the family and when you face family stress they grasp the tension.

Partner stress

Parent’s stress directly affects children, if you are a dysfunctional family and arguments happen often then it surely affects your child. Children who grow up in such families, develop an understanding that this is all normal and it changes the way they perceive relationships and family values. All these emotions turn into different types of attitudes later.

Work-load anxiety

The work pressure and having to balance home and work together affects both the parents thus leading to expectations, blames and disappointment. Children witness the tough battle their parents are fighting daily just to bring them up. But are they happy to see them struggling in such a manner?

No-help frustration

In a household, where women are also working and have to manage baby and elders in the house, a little bit of help and support is appreciated. But it seldom happens which leaves the women frustrated.

They feel mechanical and lack the energy to put the effort into the relationship. This also results in taking out frustration on kids due to tiredness and fatigue, since they cannot yell on others, they yell on their own kids.

Cut-throat competition

Some parents fall into this cut-throat competition zone and pile up a lot of stress. They want their child to excel in everything they do. And ignore the child’s capacity and ability, putting a lot of pressure on their expectations. This often results in revolt and backfires parents with low performing results and the child develops an irritable nature.

Baggage of dreams

This has been the scene from generation to generation, passing on the legacy, taking up the throne, and fulfilling the dreams that were unfulfilled. But does the child want to go in the same fashion? Or he dares to see another dream? Maybe they are good at something else but for society’s sake and our stubbornness, we put the innocence and dreams of our child at stake.

Postpartum depression

Many women suffer from postpartum depression after they deliver a baby. This often happens due to the sudden changes in the body, a new family member, a new routine. It may also occur due to unavailability of help, loss of a job, and the career and ambitions going for a toss.

All this leads to depression, and mood swings which are rarely acknowledged or taken care of. Women and even children, suffer a lot due to this, especially if they are the older ones.

Unnecessarily lashing out

Due to all the above reasons, you may get agitated and take all our frustration out on your child. The child may have just spilled some water but you look at the child like he’s committed a crime and yell at him the top of your voice. However, you know that you are overreacting. You don’t want to but you cannot help it. How does this impact your child? And how long will the bandaid of sorry help?

Going on guilt trips

Unnecessary lashing out and yelling results in a lot of accumulated stress in you. Every parent loves their child and when you see your child in pain or sad due your outburst, you feel disgusted and sad. And if this happens frequently, your child will form an opinion about you and start behaving in a particular manner with you.

Being excessively controlling

If you are a controlling parent who wants the kids to be inch-perfect, due to your obsession with perfectionism, you ruin the growth of the child. Every child is unique and has their own pace, your excessive controlling nature will create displeasure in your relationship. In fact, it will also influence the way they look at life.

Lack of awareness

One of the major problems with any mental stress is that it is invisible, unwarranted, and unacceptable. Even the sufferers don’t understand what’s happening to them, what’s bothering them. They don’t understand why are they behaving in a certain manner, and how their behavior can impact other family members.

Lack of profession help

Since people don’t accept their feeling and emotions, they fail to acknowledge it. With timely professional help and early interventions, things could become better. And we consciously try to do things to avoid any further damage in our relationship.

Is my stress affecting my child? Am I over-reacting and taking out frustration on my kids? It is important that we ask these questions from time to time to ourselves, not to feel guilty about it but to work on it. It is natural to go through these cycles and turmoil of emotions and deal and go through a lot in our personal lives and professional front.

Here’s how you can stay sane

We are bound to get tired, frustrated, stressed, and anxious. However, we need to work continuously to adopt few coping mechanisms and make it a part of our daily life. Adopting the simplest tools like these could help you stay sane and regain your lost balance:

  • Make exercise and meditation a part of your daily life.
  • Don’t be a controlling parent, be their coach and friends.
  • Take out time for little things around you.
  • Focus on spending quality time with your family.
  • See things like it is and take one day at a time.
  • Breathe.
  • Read books.
  • Stay connected with nature.

Most importantly, try and take care of yourself and stay well!

Picture Credit: Still from AllOut’s advertisement

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