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Author Topic: Parents: Can YOUR Stress Affect Your Kids?  (Read 5042 times)

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Offline Sandra Seibert

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Parents: Can Your Stress Affect Your Kids?

In our technology-driven but economically challenged society, parents are often rushed, under stress, and distracted by work and other responsibilities. Depression was once a side effect of major life change such as divorce, chronic illness, the death of a family member, or a cross country move. Now, it’s  a common condition because burn-out and exhaustion are the norm.

Good Intentions, Great Expectations, & Stress
Most of us approach parenting with good intentions and great expectations. We try to give our kids every possible advantage because we want our children to be successful, perform well, and achieve their best in life. Many of us start them with early education, send them to day camps, involve them in after school projects, and sign them up for sports and enrichment opportunities. Some of us structure their schedules so that every moment is carefully planned out with little to no downtime. Inadvertently, we pull them into our busy, fast-paced lifestyle - like hamsters spinning in a wheel.

Sometimes, the results are devastating. More and more children exhibiting signs of stress - such as anxiety, anger issues, health problems, and eating disorders. Emotional issues and depression among children and adolescents are also on the rise.[1]

Tech Time and Quality Family Time
Never before have we been more connected to other individuals and the world around us while being so emotionally disconnected from those who are closest to us.

Check out this short video of a family eating breakfast "together." They are all glued to their cell phones.

Family ignoring each other during breakfast


Being constantly connected to the Internet and online world via Smartphones, iPads, and computers prevents us from being present in our real lives and interacting with the people around us. Some of us are so afraid to “miss something” in our email or social media that we don’t pay nearly enough attention to what’s going on in the real world. Yet healthy relationships can only be sustained when we spend time together having fun, sharing our experiences and interests, and listening—really listening—to each other, without distractions.[2]

If we as parents do not consciously spend time with our children, we will miss the opportunity to really connect with them. We will miss the chance to demonstrate healthy relationships and the value of spending time “offline.”

Do the Big Rocks First
So, what can parents do to stop the cycle of stress?

A good place to start is with our own schedules. By prioritizing what’s really important and taking the time to rest and seek balance in our own lives, we will be better able to listen to our own intuition regarding our children. We will begin to notice our children’s needs and problems and will be better able to support them.

Here's a humorous video which really shows how there's never enough time to do everything:

Do The BIG ROCKS First


Quality Time
I believe that one of the best things parents can do to prepare children for their adult lives is to spend time with them – Quality time…time showing them what is important to us and why, time listening to their spoken and unspoken words, their expressions and body language… and we can model the value of relaxation and downtime.

Taking the time to consciously spend time with our children will enable us to nurture our connection and relationship with them.

Children who know their own strengths and have learned to see the positive in themselves in difficult situations will be confident and empowered and won’t experience as much stress. Likewise, children who are emotionally stable and balanced will be better equipped to handle challenges and form healthy relationships. And children who have learned to value the importance of rest will be better able to care for themselves and thus will have a more positive impact on others throughout the course of their lives.

Teaching by Doing
As a mother, wife, and life coach, I often find myself being pulled in different directions. It seems like there is never enough time to accomplish all the tasks on my list. But I know that if I do not take breaks and allow myself to recharge, I will not be the role model I want to be for my sons.

They know when I am stressed, unbalanced, and not really listening to them—they tell me right away. They feel hurt and unimportant. They feel left alone with all their questions, experiences, and challenges.

I want my sons to learn that, at times, doing nothing is healthy and it relaxes our brains. I want them to learn that time spent in nature exploring, fishing, playing in the sand, carving wood, or playing in the yard is better than sitting in front of the TV or computer or the fifth educational camp.

I want my sons to learn that we need to slow down and take a break from the rat race, connect with ourselves and our dreams, and listen to our intuition and inner wisdom to recharge. This will give us more clarity and focus, intention, commitment, energy, and strength. We will be able to be there for others and have healthier relationships.

Stop, Look, & Give Your Kids a Gift
Take a moment to look at your life and try to identify areas where it is out of balance and filled with stress. Just notice. Think about how it affects your health, your inner peace, and your relationships with those who are closest to you.

What impact does this have on your role as a parent?
What could you do to increase your balance?
What is missing?
What needs to change?


Living a balanced life is essential to staying mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy and to mastering the impermanence of life. It is also a vital gift that we can pass down to our children.

About Sandra Seibert
Sandra Seibert is the Joyful Growth Coach for women, parents, and expat[3] families. She encourages individuals to turn life’s challenges into opportunities and experience the joy of change and personal growth.

Sandra is an Associate Certified Coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation and has her own coaching practice. Her services are offered worldwide in English and German via Skype, phone and in person.

Sandra is married to her soul mate and is the mother of two young boys. Sandra and her family currently live in Michigan, USA and enjoy being outdoors with their two Labrador Retrievers.
 
Sandra is fluent in German and English and has lived in three different countries, which has given her a strong appreciation for multicultural differences. Her professional education and experience include more than 11 years serving as an educationist and systemic counselor in German youth welfare departments as well as preschool / daycare environments, where she supported, guided, and counseled parents of children 7-14 years old who displayed behavioral problems.

Sandra has personal life experience in self-exploration and self-development as a woman, mother of two sons, and expat spouse, which has ultimately led to her own joyful change and growth. Her experiences with changing and dynamic family relationships serve her in her work with women, parents, and families. Her philosophy is that the only constant in life is change; each challenge presents valuable opportunities to grow personally and experience transformation.

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 1. YoungMinds - Mental Health Statistics
 2. Kaiser Family Foundation - DAILY MEDIA USE AMONG CHILDREN AND TEENS UP DRAMATICALLY FROM FIVE YEARS AGO
 3. expat - living abroad
« Last Edit: September 28, 2013, 11:58:19 AM by Judy »
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Offline Mei Marcie

Hi Sandra,

There is no doubt that our stress can affects our children. Many studies have already shown that parents' stress can be passed on to our kids and our children are often concerned with issues that parents are also concerned with (though parents think that the kids are concerned with kids' issues).

My baby has eczema and stress can be a trigger for eczema. Plus having a baby with eczema is stressful -double whammy situation. But I'm very glad that my baby, now toddler, has managed to stay cheerful and happy everyday.

Cheers!
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Offline Sandra Seibert

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HI Mei,
thank you for your comment. Yes, I can imagine how stressful eczema is for both of you. The skin is really sensitive and stress can trigger it even to make it worse. When my son was a baby he almost developed eczema and asthma but we were lucky and within  year the skin calmed down.
I hope you also take good care of yourself which is so important especially when your little one is so young.
The more balanced we as parents are the better we can respond and connect with our children, and they get energized by our calmness.
Hope you are having a great day.
Sandra
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Nichole

Hi Sandra,

I love the idea that sometimes "doing nothing" is OK, and required for balance. I'm a to-do list checker-offer with plenty on my plate, but I definitely give myself permission to "veg," and that's such a great thing to teach my son - though in most of our life, we're filled to the brim with activities and social media.  Thank you for such a lovely post!

~ Nichole

Offline Sandra Seibert

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Hi Nicole,
I hear you- you are busy and you are right. Our schedules are filled with activities and media, technology, social media... It may need some real inner discipline to make time for doing nothing. Self care falls easily behind.
So great that you are giving yourself the permission to 'veg' :) The awareness comes first and then we can make sure to integrate times of relaxation into our daily schedule.
I have the experience that if we don't plan for it and schedule it, we easily get carried away with our huge to-do-lists. Sometimes 15 minutes of doing nothing do wonder and increase our inner balance.
Thanks so much for your comment,
Sandra
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KristiG

Hi Sandra -

Thanks so much for this post! You're so right about the importance of quality time. Our lives are so busy that it's easy to forget to take time for those small moments that really matter.

As I read your article, it reminded me about something that happened a couple weeks ago. It was raining outside – one of those warm summer rains that are so refreshing. My 6-year-old son looked outside and asked if he could play in the rain. “Sure, honey,” I said distractedly as I checked email on my phone. “Mom, will you play in the rain with me?” he asked. I hesitated for a moment – I really needed to return a few emails – but then I put my phone down and ran outside. We splashed in the puddles and danced in the rain, catching raindrops on our tongues. We were having so much fun! I wished that someone were taking pictures so that I would remember that moment. Instead, I tried to capture it in my heart.

When we came back inside, I suggested my son paint a T-shirt that we had been saving as a rainy-day project. I expected him to paint a spider web or maybe draw his name. But as his painting began taking shape, I saw stick figures, with blue dots all around. “Do you know what I’m painting Mom?” he asked. “I’m painting us, dancing in the rain.”

It was such a small thing, me running outside in the rain with him for a few minutes. But it meant so much to him that he wanted to express it through his art.

Work can always wait. Children will only be young for such a short time.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this important topic.

Offline Sandra Seibert

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Kristi,
how wonderful that you noticed the importance in that very moment to spend time with your son - dancing in the rain- what a lovely precious moment.
It touched my heart when I read it. Your idea to do crafts afterwards is wonderful and it also shows how much meaning that moment had for your son since he painted your dance in the rain.
If we as parents can stay present and conscious in our daily life, so we are able to identify these important moments and make good choices to be there for our kids when they need us and also to show them what is important for healty relationships: spending quality time together.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
 
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Offline Paul R Hewlett

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Great post! I agree with it entirely. I read that social media actualling discourages being social. I think it was said tongue in cheek, but your video of the family at breakfast kinds kind of supports that. I firmly believe in interaction and down time for kids. Great work! My daughter is 19 so a lot of these discrations (ie: smartphones, internet, etc.) were not around or in their infancy. They make things so much harder. Thanks for posting:)

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Offline Sandra Seibert

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Hi Paul,
thank you very much for your comment.
I agree with you that it is much more difficult to parent our children nowadays because there is so much distraction with social media, games, videos, and other online forums.
We as parents need to be very conscious and mindful what we offer our children and where we set the boundaries.
The question:"What does my child really need?" can help us in raising our children.

Thanks again for your comment, Paul.
Hope you are having a great day.
Sandra
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Offline VA Mom

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I agree that our stress affects our kids. I think our overall emotional state affects kids as early as when they are in the womb.

The vid with the family was so crazy! Social media has somehow caused all of us to be less interactive with the people who are right in front of us.

The last time my family and I went to Outbacks, we sat across from this family of four. The entire time the family was eating, the dad did not take his eyes off his smart phone.

My family and I do not use phones or devices while we are eating together. We talk or play Uno.
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Offline Sandra Seibert

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Hi Uhura,
thanks so much for your comment. It is wonderful to read that you are aware of the risks of social media and our highly advanced technology, and that you set boundaries within your family regarding the use of phones while sharing a meal.

Mindful parenting is essential in order to stay in connection with our loved ones.
Yes, I also notice couples and families in restaurants regularly who are totally focused on their phones and not being present at all for the person in front of them.
If we want to teach our children what real connection and quality time spent with others is, we need to be a role model.

I also fully agree with you that children sense the stress of their parents already when they are still in moms womb.
Children, especially young children, are so connected with their intuition and their senses, that they don't need to intellectually understand what's going on - they feel it. They feel their parents energy, their emotions and state of mind. They are so connected to us on a much deeper level, that they pick up our tension, stress and mood immediately. That's why it is so important to take good care of ourselves as parents to be able to create a balanced and loving home where everyone is 'seen' and 'heard'.
Thanks again for your lovely comment.
Warmly,
Sandra
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Offline Paul R Hewlett

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Great post Uhura! Great idea also of no phones/smart devices while eating. I also noticed something in that sentence that you should be commended on~ "while we are eating together."  That doesn't happen very often for most families it seems as day to day life becomes more hectic. I applaude you for this, I think that is extremely important and calming for a family to make sure to sit down and eat together and enjoy each others company.  Oh, and I love Uno also:)  Game time is great also.  Have a great day:)

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Offline snoweater

Funny you should write this post, that's the goal I am trying for in my business, reducing screen time with kids.  My kids earn their screen time.  And yeah I agree with Paul no phones/smart devices or any electronics - they're not even allowed to read (or have toys) at the dinner table, it forces us all to interact.  (I've been caught reading in magazine and got in trouble from my kids for it  :notme:)

I am finding we have been taking vacations where there is no cell phone service and just getting back to basics.  I'm happy to say for the most part we enjoy each other's company.

And there is nothing like an old fashioned board game to keep everyone engaged.
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Offline Sandra Seibert

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Hello Snoweater,
thank you for your comment. I hear that you have clear rules at meal times at the dinner table. I am totally with you on that. This is great that you have created healthy structures within your family since eating together is so important - it gives us the time to connect, talk, share and catch up with each other (when we are not distracted by TV or other devices..)
I noticed when we go out for dinners with our kids, that they are so focused on the TV's in the restaurant and we are not really able to have a conversation with them.

Paul and Uhura, yes, I know many families who have no meal times together since their kid's schedules are so different and they barely have time to eat. Many kids get to eat in the car while driving from school to sports and home.
What do we teach our children when we have no routines and structure for family time? When meals are eaten in the car (most of the time fast food)?
Don't we add more and more hectic and hurry to our daily life?

Snoweater, I love your comment about going back to the basics. It is not easy to step back and let go of that connection to the outer world. The fear of missing what's going on can make us restless. I find it absolutely wonderful that you show your children on family vacations that nothing "serious" happens when we are not reachable. Deep relaxation is only possible when we slow down and take a break from the rat race or hamster wheel. It's so important to teach that our children o they learn that it is essential for our health to slow down and recharge.

Thanks again for your comment,
warmly,
Sandra
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Everyone,

This is a good discussion.

We eat dinner together every day @ 7 p.m. It's definitely deliberate. It's our family time. I am saddened by the idea that most families don't have that. I don't want to appear to be a "Judgy McJudger" but I sincerely believe that we all really need to think about what we're doing by scheduling our kids and ourselves for different things at different times.

One thing which came up recently: My husband loves football coaching. The practices are every day or the week from 5 to 8 p.m. Plus Saturday games. We both work full time....So, this would have the effect of completely removing family time from August to October. (This is what it did last year.) He asked me about it. Honestly, I thought it was a bad idea. He said we could adjust dinner time or he could attend part of the practice times and come in off the field for dinner. The practices are usually held in a field right in the back of our house, but I was there last year - that isn't how it goes. How can a coach leave the field to have dinner with his family? In the end, he backed out of doing it because it seemed to bother me (according to him), but the downside is dealing with him being pissed off or resentful about not coaching.

It would be one thing if he decided not to do it because HE could see that it would interfere with family time, but he's saying it's my feelings that caused him to back out of it.

Rock, meet hard place.
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Offline Paul R Hewlett

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Uhura,
That is certainly the proverbial rock and hard place for sure.  With that being said, BRAVO!  I congratulate you.  Being a man I agree with your thoughts on this 100% and I also think that your husband will come around and see that it was the right decision for the family (we men don't always listen to our wives the 1st time around even though history usually proves that we should).  There will be many years to coach football (maybe not with your children on the team if that's the case) whereas there will not be so many years of family diners.  Time flys (my daughters 19 already!) and they will be out of the house before you know it.  Great choice here~stick to your guns, I say:)  Have a great 4th!

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Thanks Paul. I really needed to hear those words of encouragement...especially from a guy's perspective.

Our son can't even be on the football team this year because he had foot surgery...So I really do feel it would be an especially bad choice.

The good news is, our son will be well enough to participate on the basketball team because he will be recovered by then - that starts around January. My husband coached basketball too. The practices are once (maybe twice a week) ... Far less intrusive on everyone's lives than the football. We talked about him going for that again.

Later, he did admit that the football coaching would take away from family time but he also tried to talk about how it could be "worked around." I just coulnd't see it. Our experience from last year shows the reality.

Maybe, as you said, he'll see a bit later that opting out of the football thing was a better choice for the family.


« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 03:56:33 PM by Uhura! »
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Offline Sandra Seibert

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Hi Uhura,
I want you to know that it is so great that you shared your view based on last year's experience with your husband and that  you were very clear about it. Even if it takes him a while to digest the decision, I am sure he will see with time how important it is to be there for you guys, especially for your son when he is not allowed to play football.
I agree with Paul :) - sometimes men need a little more time to digest things like that.
Congrats again that you 'fought' for family time. Being honest, standing your ground and really saying what's important to you isn't always easy ,especially when there are different view points. As Paul said time flies by and later you all will be glad to have spent it consciously with your kids.
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Realist

Excellent article and discussion.

Nowadays we are all way too "plugged in" and check out of real life!

Offline Sandra Seibert

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Hi Realist,
I agree. Nowadays we are at risk to confuse the reality with the online world.
Thanks for your comment and feedback.
Sandra
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