Like most parents, my husband and I try to shield our child from the harsh realities of adult life. At 10-years-old, she doesn’t need to know about our financial difficulties, job concerns or any of the million other things we worry about.
But while she may not always know why we are stressed, a new study reveals the she probably knows when we are.
The study, conducted by The American Psychological Association (APA), finds that while Americans continue to live high levels of stress, our kids are feeling the pain.
1,136 kids ages 8 to 17 were surveyed about stress in their homes. They were asked how they knew when their parents were stressed out and how it made them feel. 91% said they could tell just by observing their parents’ behavior, which often involved yelling, arguing with family members and being too busy to spend time with them.
And while 14% of the kids claimed to not be bothered by parental stress, the vast majority said it made them feel sad, worried, frustrated, helpless and a whole bunch of other negative emotions.
As Norman Anderson, clinical psychologist and CEO of the APA, points out, keeping quiet about our problems might be doing our kids more harm than good.
It’s actually better to talk with your kids about the fact that the parent is having challenges. The key message is ‘We’re going to address these difficulties and we’ll be OK. We’ll get through this.’
Of course, the most important thing a stressed out parent can do is find an effective way to deal with the stress. Because knowing why a parent is short-tempered and snappy doesn’t take the sting out of being on the receiving end of it.
How does it go in your house? Do you share your problems with your children? Or do you prefer to keep them completely in the dark about such grown up stuff? And most importantly, how do you deal with your stress so it doesn’t negatively impact your children?
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