Is my stress affecting my child? Do I pass on the negativity and dullness to my children? If you are a mother or father 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 own 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 with in-laws or spouses, and some underlying health conditions. Kids are unaware of all this, all they see is how we as parents react and behave in certain situations, how we speak with others, and how we handle the situation and 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 their 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 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 a few.
The most common reason for stress in parents 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. You are going through a bad phase in your life, probably the worse and you are depressed or your anxiety levels are over the top. Just imagine parents who are living with other mental illnesses like OCD (Obsessive Compulsion disorder), Bipolar disorder, or PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder). 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 burnout often.
No matter what type of mental illness a parent is going through, it is a universal cry that managing a child’s mental health and not passing our anxiety to our kids is one of the biggest fear and reason for guilt among the parents. Of course, due to the lack of awareness and stigmas attached to mental health, many parents completely overlook the problem and deny to accept that their behavior, their anxiety can disturb their child and influence their perspective. Is my stress affecting my child and how?
|1.) Your stress is affecting your child when you are living 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.|
|2.) 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, you get irritated when they demand time.|
|3.) 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.|
|4.) 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.|
|5.) Your stress affects your children when you pass the baggage of your expectations to them and create unwarranted stress on them to fulfill all the things you could not do and want them to do.|
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 internalize the stress their parents go through. Is my stress affecting my child? Yes, and in which form?
|1.) Family stress|
|2.) Partner stress|
|3.) Work-load anxiety|
|4.) No-help frustration|
|5.) Cut-throat competition|
|6.) Baggage of dreams|
|7.) Postpartum depression|
|8.) Unnecessary lashing out|
|9.) Going on guilt trips|
|10.) Being excessive controlling|
|11.) Lack of awareness|
|12.) Lack of professional help|
1.) Family stress
If you are living 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 increases, the anxiety level increase. 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.
2.) 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.
3.) Work-load anxiety
The pressure of work and then balancing the home and work life applies to both the partner and then begins the game of expectations, blame, and a series of disappointments. 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?
4.) No-help frustration
In a household, where women are also working and have to manage babies and elders in the house, a little bit of help and support is appreciated. But it seldom happens which leaves a disgusting feeling in women. 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 at others, they yell on their own kids.
5.) 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. They ignore the capacity and ability of the child and put a lot of pressure on their expectations, not the child, which many times results in revolt and backfires parents with low performing results and the child develops an irritable nature.
6.) Baggage of dreams
This has been the scene from generation to generation, passing on the legacy, taking up the throne, and fulfilling the dreams which were left unfulfilled. But does the child want to go in the same fashion? Or he dares to see another dream? Maybe he/she is good at something else but for society’s sake and our stubbornness, we put the innocence and dreams of our child at stake.
7.) Postpartum depression
Post-partum depression occurs in many women after delivering the baby, due to the sudden change of body, a new member in life, new life, new routine and may be no help, no attention, losing a job, career, and ambitions going for a toss, all this and a lot more results in a phase of severe depression and mood swings in women, which are hardly acknowledged and take care of, children suffer a lot due to this, especially if you already have one before eth newborn child.
8.) Unnecessary lashing out
Due to the above-stated reasons, it happens that just because you are agitated you take out the agitation and frustration on your child. For a silly reason like spilling the water on the floor, the child looks at you like he commented a sin and you yell at the top of your vice, but inside you know you are over-reacting, you don’t want to but cannot help it. How does this impact your child? How long a band-aid of sorry will help, we need to help ourselves first to help them.
9.) Going on guilt trips
The unnecessary lashing out and barging results in a lot of accumulated stress inside you. Every parent loves their child, I mean almost everyone. When you see your child in pain and sadness due to your emotional outburst you feel disgusted. But if this happens frequently your child will form an opinion about you and start behaving in a particular manner with you.
10.) Being excessive controlling
If you are among those controlling parents who want their kids to be inch-perfect, due to your obsessiveness with compulsion and perfectionism, you ruin the growth of the child. Every child is unique and has their own pace, your excessive controlling nature will not only create displeasure in your relationship but will also influence the way they look at life.
11.) 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 with them, what’s bothering them, why are they behaving in a certain manner, and how their behavior can impact other family members.
12.) Lack of professional help
Since people don’t accept their feeling and emotions, they fail to acknowledge them. 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 very 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.
We are bound to get tired, frustrated, stressed, and anxious, but we also need to work on it 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.
- Read books.
- Stay connected with nature.
Please take care and stay well.
Priyanka Nair is the author of 26 Days 26 Ways for a Happier you and Ardhaviram. An NLP practitioner and Founder of Sanity Daily, helping you prioritize your mental health. Let’s build a happy community.