Children can pick up on your stress and act out (which leads to more stress!)

On an almost daily basis, each of us encounters problems to be solved, questions to be answered decisions to be made, and a pile of things we would like to accomplish. In short, every day requires us to navigate through stress. As DiFranco would advise, we have to bend to what life brings, in order to avoid breaking.

If you are a parent, in addition to handling your own issues, you also have to keep an eye on your child, to help him or her learn how to handle stress with grace and competence. Each child is born without any ability to deal with frustration or solve problems. It is up to you as a parent to model and teach your child how life should be lived. In short, your child needs to learn how to bend, so that he doesn’t break.

Some research to help

A study that was just published on October 8, 2017, examined the connection between parental stress and child behavior problems. Some key questions that this study could inspire in you include: When you experience stress, how do you handle it? Your child is watching…When your child experiences stress, what level of support and encouragement do you offer him?

As I’ve written elsewhere (see my article on “How poverty hurts children”), stress impacts our parenting, especially when it occupies a front-and-center place in our minds. Parents with high stress demonstrate less warmth, lower levels of responsiveness, less affection, and are more likely to use discipline that is either harsh or uninvolved. They are also more likely to use controlling tactics to get their child to obey. In contrast, parents with less stress use more positive parenting behaviors such as warmth, sensitivity, listening, understanding, and scaffolding (which we’ll talk about below).

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