With work, parenting, and everything else in between and more, it’s easy to let stress get the better of you. But watch out, parents, as stress is contagious. Studies show that when parents don’t manage their stress, they may pass it on to their children.
The American Psychological Associtation or APA reported that unhealthy ways of coping with stress are observed and absorbed by children, “Children model their parents’ behaviors, including those related to managing stress. Parents who deal with stress in unhealthy ways risk passing those behaviors on to their children. Alternatively, parents who cope with stress in healthy ways can not only promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves, but also promote the formation of critically important habits and skills in children,” says the APA on their website. They confirmed this in another APA study on obesity, which found that obese parents are more likely than non-obese parents to have obese childen.
There are also numerous ongoing studies which affirm a link to parental stress and developmental problems in children. In one such study, it found that parents who are stressed early in life affect children’s genes, especially in the areas of insulin production and brain development. The effects would manifest years later, during a child’s adolescence.
David Code, who authored “Kids Pick Up on Everything: How Parental Stress is Toxic to Kids”, recommends that parents transmit not only love for their children, but a sense of calm. It would also help if the love and calm is shown not only to kids, but to people surrounding them, “We [parents] have to get back to being social. For example, I have never seen toddlers more satisfied or happy or fulfilled than when their parents are blabbing away with each other or with friends on the couch,”
Happiness after all, starts in the home. So if you’re a stressed parent, take slow and deep breaths, relax and be happy!