Spending time together over the holiday period can be very stressful. According to statistics 62% of people found that they would describe their stress levels as ‘very or somewhat’ elevated over the holiday period. Perhaps because we are trying to make the holidays as perfect as they can be, without thinking instead about spending quality time together. In fact, the media tells us that divorce rates are elevated during January as couples are looking for a fresh start after spending so much time together over the holidays. Whatever the statistics, elevated stress levels can cause real heartache and it’s not just felt by adults, it can also impact our children.
I have experienced periods of high stress; I think we all have and it’s not fun! That feeling of not coping is awful and can make us ill with real physical symptoms. However, what we often don’t think about is how this stress can also impact our children. I was shocked to read how fear and anxiety can affect young children and how our stress can make children feel.
Here are the 5 ways in that stress may negatively impact your child:
1. Stress makes us very distracted. It consumes every part of us and then it is difficult to concentrate on anything else. This leads to us not spending time with our children. Children need time, we all know this. Neglecting children is one of the most harmful things for child development.
2. Stress can make us overreact. I have done this. It feels like the end of the world that your child spills their drink but we end up overreacting to a very normal part of everyday life.
3. Stress can make us do things for our children that they are quite capable of doing for themselves. I see this often actually in my job as a teacher. The parent who needs to get to work and so will rush in with their child’s things because it takes too long for their own child to put away their things. In these situations you end up over managing your children. Children need to learn independence; it’s vital for self-confidence.
4. In stressful situations, we like to talk things through. I have seen friends talking to their children about their marital problems. I just don’t think this is appropriate. I do not believe that children and teenagers should be included in things that they really do not understand or have any experience of. Stress can involve your children in what should be an adult conversation and it’s unfair to expect them to fully understand or make a judgement.
5. Lastly, your stress can make your child feel guilty or stressed themselves. They will think that the reason you are shouting is due to their behaviour or about that spilt drink when actually the reason you are cross is due to your stress.
So what can we do to manage stress in our lives?
I have recently begun to practise Mindfulness and it has really helped me to engage with how I am feeling and how this affects me in different ways. Mindfulness is a mind and body approach to life that helps us relate to what is happening on a daily basis. It helps us to pay attention to our feelings so that we can make better choices to engage in difficult situations. It has also helped me focus on what I have rather than always striving for what I haven’t got! I will blog about what I actually do in later posts.
If you are feeling stressed with your life, I urge you to look up and take note of how this may be affecting your family. I’m not talking about the one-off shout about wet towels on the floor by the way! I’m talking about if stress is making you feel cross, sad or numb most of the time and you know deep down that your children are being affected. Mindfulness may be able to help you.
I’m not being paid to promote mindfulness. I just love it so much that I want to pass on the love to all of your lovely people.❤
I have recently written a guest post for Hayley over at Mission mindfulness blog about Yoga for children which you may find interesting. You can read about it here