Being stressed seems to be a daily part of modern lives, with the world becoming more and more hectic. This can have a large impact on your family, and whilst you want to create a warm and comforting environment, sometimes it can be hard to provide the love and boundaries that children need to thrive.
This can be said for both parents, not just dads.
There are often many roles for fathers to fill, a supportive partner, a good dad, and the traditional role of the breadwinner. This can be exhausting, and many fathers suffer from chronic stress and depression as a result.
Mums often find that they have to bear the brunt of the mental load, working out the family agenda, what time school drop off and pick up is, and how that coincides with everyone’s day.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, it doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, you just have a lot on your plate. Feelings of inadequacy and guilt will only make parenting stress worse, and it will affect your children.
Your stress can impact your children’s health
David Code in his Book Kids Pick Up On Everything: How Parental Stress Is Toxic to Kids, discussed how there is a mind-body connection between a parents’ mind and a child’s body and how they interlink.
“Children become barometers for their parents’ state of mind
- Kids pick up on everything, especially our stress and anxiety;
- This happens both in the womb and throughout childhood;
- The mind-body connection is a primal instinctive link between every parent and child
- This mind-body connection contributed to problems in every family – its just a question of degree; from colic and food allergies to asthma and autism;
- This is not the mother’s or father’s fault. Today’s parents are more stressed out because our social support networks are dwindling, and as our isolation increases, it drives up our stress levels.
“Brains’ mirror neurons appear to be what gives humans our capacity for empathy, but they can also make children so sensitive to their parents’ moods that kids can catch a parent’s emotions just like they catch a virus’
Ways to deal with stress
So if this is the case that children’s health is at risk, what are the best ways to dealing with this stress so that it doesn’t affect them?
A good indicator of being stressed is how easy a big reaction is to a small and minor event. Stressed parents may take a child’s breaking an object personally thinking they have done it deliberately or on purpose, when actually they were just being a child.
A good thing to do to combat this is to have some ground rules with our partner on how to deal with discipline if you are struggling with your child. It is much easier to stay calm if you stick to the plan of action.
Be less judgemental
When a parent is stressed, they can go into a downward spiral of being only able to see the negative things that a child is doing. It can be easy to miss the good and positive actions they are putting into the family. When someone is stressed, we bypass the rational parts of our brain and make an instant judgment, which can often be negative.
Try to catch your children being good and make sure to praise them. This causes an upward spiral that will make you feel more positive about your children, they will do more good things because of your praise and they will start to feel good about themselves.
By taking the moment to be less judgemental, it can have a vast effect on your children.
Maintain a good relationship
If one is too stressed it can damage the quality of family relationships, which has an impact on you and your child. Maintaining a good relationship requires positive attention and trying to be gentle with other people’s points of view. But when parents are triggered into overreacting, children can copy this and you will find them mimicking your frustration.
Maintaining a good relationship takes time and effort. A way to do this is spending time doing something you both enjoy, this can be something as little as watching a family tv show together. Spend time talking about everything, and make sure your child feels special and listened to.