Don’t let stress affect children
Parenting column by Sasha Brown, family care manager at Community Family Care, Staunton
The result is that everyone feels stressed from time to time.
We’ve put together some advice so that you can stay calm when managing children’s behaviour at times of stress.
Why it’s important to recognise stress
Being a parent/carer can be rewarding but it can also be very challenging.
There may be times when you feel your patience has run out, particularly when trying to deal with misbehaviour.
When you are exhausted or stressed you can sometimes make decisions that you later regret. You may accidentally snap at them and shout or have a lower tolerance for behaviours you would normally accept.
Recognising when you are becoming stressed allows you to seek help to tackle issues that are worrying you and enables you to take back some control.
It is useful to recognise the signs that you are close to your limit and to have some ideas about what you can do to prevent yourself losing control.
Sometimes your children may appear to be the trigger of a crisis but more often than not they are just the last straw.
The effect of stress on children
You may not realise just how much children pick up on tension.
They become worried and anxious and sometimes may choose to trigger a situation which relieves the tension rather than live with the uncertainty.
Children may also find how you deal with stress frightening.
Sometimes people relieve stress by hitting out, shouting or tensing muscles and for some children that can be very scary.
It can also be emotionally upsetting to a child to witness a parent becoming very angry or losing emotional control.
Children often think they are to blame for the outburst and this can damage their own emotional and mental development.
How to manage stress
Identify the signs that you are becoming stressed and try using some of these techniques to help to calm you before it escalates.
- Count to 10 and take deep breaths (an old one but a good one).
- Take time out. Walk away and take a few minutes to calm yourself. This could be another room or outside if you need air. Are you really angry at your child or has something else happened?
- Visualise somewhere calming. This could be a tropical island or beach, whatever works for you.
- Remind yourself you are the adult and you are setting an example to your child on how to behave. Would you like to be shouted at or spoken to in that manner?
- Phone a friend. Sometimes talking things through helps you to see things in a new light.
- Factor ‘me time’ in to your day. This could be two minutes to have a cup of tea in peace or to read a magazine.
- Scream into a pillow – away from the children. You can let rip in the pillow, it will absorb the noise and this is better than yelling at the children.
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