Stress Management For Families

Everyone feels stress several times in their living state. Stress is considered to be normal reaction. Stress is basically a response to any danger, change or any pressure feel by a person. The danger can be from outside or within body either. Minimum temporary stress can make us to concentrate more on our aims but in excess amount and for a longer period of time it is not considered to be advantageous and there can be serious physical as well as psychological consequences.

However parenting is not an easy task. There is a turbulence of emotions ranging from joy, love, attachment to stress, fear and pain. Likewise, every children and teenager go through stress many times since childhood. Children go through stress in various events such as in preparing any work, in adaptation to something or when they feel insecure. Moreover, they are also stressed in a situation like when they learn for change of something even the change is for their betterment.

In order to prevent serious consequences due to excess and prolong stress for both parents and children, there is a need to understand stress in families with signs, causes and stress management strategies which are indicated below:

Stress in Families and Types

When a person goes through stressful events, there is a change in cognitive and behavioral response of that individual such as decision making behavior, learning abilities and thought process. This response is a reaction when a person’s external or internal demands overtake individual’s sources, capabilities or support.

Family stress can be explained as any trigger that affect more than single family member that results in affecting family system at a specific period which leads to affect the relationship between members along with their health and mood. Stress in family develops due to imbalance between demands (either in form of danger or hardship) exerted on family and sources and capabilities attain by family. Family go through “Hyper-stress” when demands overcome sources. “Hypo-stress” is a condition in which sources overcome needs.

Family stress is also based according to event family is facing, sources family have and physical and mental health of family members. Family distress in a negative point of view is the one in which imbalance between demand and capabilities seems to be disturbing. Whereas eustress is positive condition in which family accept this imbalance and hardships are faced and accepted by members with strength.

Eustress is positive stress which is for shorter period of time and productive whereas negative stress is the one which results in anxiety. For example; suppose a kid has sports skills or he enjoys family camp so he might insist his family to either come to see his performance or plan for camping. In this situation parents might accept the condition and come out of their comfort zone. This can result in exciting event in the end.

Signs of Family Stress and Consequences

stress in parents
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There are some indications of stress in a family.

The stress in parents

It can be characterized by following signs:

  • Parents feel disconnect from responsibilities, chores and people they love.
  • Parents remain in state of inactivation emotionally.
  • Negative thoughts regarding life, work and family.
  • Have a feeling that efforts will not give any reward or they’re not a good parent.
  • Sleep disturbances and reasonless body pain.
  • Not showing interest for responsibilities, alteration of eating habits, and addiction of any substance.

The consequences of parenting stress

Continuous stress for longer period can results in following outcomes.

  • Continuous stress can lead to mental exhaustion. Parents might feel that the responsibilities are very challenging and feel difficulty in making decisions.
  • The complications in cognitive skills such as not taking right decisions, disturbance of thoughts can results in inability to deal with life’s situations. If not manage parental stress can lead to serious psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Mental as well as physical disturbances can result in increased conflicts between partners. If remain unsolved these arguments and dissatisfaction can affect the stability of relationship.
  • A kid having a parent with emotionally unstable state who is not capable to give emotional support to children, there is an increased chances of anxiety in that child and that child can have avoidant attachment pattern behavior. The kid would likely become co-dependent on parent and is not capable to grow his own identity and cannot become independent even in his adult age.
  • In stressful state joy with children might become lesser along with feelings of detachment. Parents could doubt their abilities and feel lack of confidence regarding their parenting. This emotional rollercoaster results in rapid mood changes and hopelessness.
  • Parent might feel chronic fatigue, changing in sleep patterns, and sickness due to weak immunity. As time passes, chronic stress can rises the risk of heart diseases, obesity, and further health issues.
  • Stress in parents can disturb whole family members. The affection and love among members can be affected. Joyful moments could decline and continuous state of nervousness surrounds the family.

The stress in children

It can be characterized by following signs:

Children’s signs of stress is according to age, nature and management skills. The way to identify is to observe for huge or rapid changes in behavior of children in comparison to past behaviors. The most frequent signs are as follows:

  • Remains angry and irritated.
  • Difficulty in sleep and might faces nightmares.
  • Child would like to be alone and does not interact with their friends, cousins and colleagues.
  • Decline in academic performances. Cannot concentrate on studies.
  • Frequent stomach disturbances and headache.
  • Showing inflexible behavior.

Consequences of stress in children

Continuous stress for longer period can results in following outcomes:

  • Continuous stress for longer period of time disorganised early brain development and disturb normal functions of the nervous systems. There can be development of smaller brain instead of normal.
  • Increased stress hormones like cortisol can disrupt the body’s immunity results in frequent illnesses. Increased cortisol can disrupt the hippocampus of brain that helps in learning and memory.
  • Childhood stress can results in health issues later in life of affected. Issues involving increase alcohol intake, depression, eating disorders, heart problems, cancer, and several chronic disorders.
  • Childhood stress can results in significant chances of increased drug addiction, smoking and depression later in life.
  • There is greater chance that the affected child would have many sexual partners later in life which could results in sexually transmitted diseases.
  • There is much increased chance of suicide attempts in children with stress.
stress in children
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Causes of Stress in Parents

There are distinct aspects of parental stress:

Agent of Stress

Anything a parent perceives as a requirement that is hard to fulfill. Maintain time to balance between work and family, health care bills, transportation issues, and expectations of others are all factors that are responsible to develop stress in parents.

Health issue of a child such as having a kid who has special needs, autism, developmental disorders and chronic diseases can cause financial difficulty and develop stress in parents.

Economic demands

It is known as significant trigger. Financial hardships can also result in separation of partners and divorce is significant cause of stress develop in parents. Most parents continuously face many triggers of stress in their lives.

Parents can feel stress due to urgent requirements of meeting a child’s desire which include meal, satisfaction and attention, to create balance between a child’s needs and their own needs, and the financial, emotional and social pressure related with a long term investment for child’s future, nourishment and health. Parent feel stress due to child’s social and environmental situations, responsibilities, and everyday life.

The lack of social support and financial hardships along with other agents create stress for parents including stress for child’s nature and parenting responsibilities that can impact health and effect life of a child. There are also ecological and contextual factors like geographical area, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity that affect parents and can disturb physical and mental health of parents. Moreover situations like neighborhood violence and home instability are also major cause of and parental stress.

Evaluation of Stress

Parents differ in assessment of stressful situations. It depends on environmental factors and on that individual. People are picky in both of factors in what conditions they take seriously and how they assess the situations. For instance, if a mother was predicting an increased energy bill as she turned up the heat in cold, she may assess the stress of managing an increased bill. But, if she did not predict an increased energy bill, she may assess it as shattering and stressful.

Socio-economic sources and financial pressure have been related to the evaluation of stress. Recently divorce mothers having lesser social as well as financial sources with less education assess their condition as very stressful compared to mothers having more socio-economic sources and education. The experience of financial stress may be not from drastic situations like loss of job instead it occurs by how a person assess those situations. Continuous worry and confusion regarding future can result in more economic stress evaluation rather than job loss.

Causes of Stress in Children

There can be many causes but most significant findings are as follows:

  • Emotional, Physical and sexual abuse.
  • Insufficient love from mother.
  • Suffer violence by any parent at home.
  • Parental separation or loss of loved one.
  • Continuous neglecting by parents.
  • Parental substance use disorder.
  • Mental illness of parent/parents.
  • Severe accident.
  • Economic hardships in family.
Stress in Children
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Stress Management Strategies for Parents

Assessing stress on time can maintain a healthier environment for family and prevents complications. Here are several strategies that help you to manage with parental stress:

Focus on Time Management

Try to make peace pockets rather than burdening yourself. Make some structure of your all work. Try to make time-table like at what time you will do house-hold or job work and at what time you keep it as family time. Try to take out time for your self-care too.

Help from your loved ones

The loved ones and community reminds that don’t feel alone. In experiencing any stress in which you feel helpless you should seek help from your family, friends and people you trust. You can have emotional support as well as solution of problem. You can also share your conditions in parenting groups and observe their experience too.

Don’t ignore Self-care

In order to take care of your family, you should take care of yourself first. Take out some time even it is a small and do your favorite thing like some physical workout, reading a book or any hobby. When you are fulfilled with positive energy you can give it to your family as well.

Seek Medical Help

If you notice that you are feeling continuously stressful, anxious and depressed, do not hesitate to seek medical help. Therapy will help you to assess yourself, your condition and heal your thought process. Therapy for parents can help you in understanding stressor and solutions you can make as a parent.

Parent Education

Educational programs for parents are used to reduce the risk of stress of parents especially if they bear a child with special need. These sessions consists of more than one targets such as training on parenting topics like discipline, character of child, moderated discussions with the children, and facilitated parent-child interactions. These sessions guide parents and polish their skills and provide them a chance to apply the skills in a safe environment. Scientific research shows that these parenting sessions are very useful.

Stress Management Strategies for Children

Family Stress
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Normally children don’t have a lot of control in their lives. They obey eating routines, sleeping routines, how to react, how to get up, what is appropriate to answer and learn about discipline etc. Children are aware to get attention and manipulate their parents. Saying no is the only control they feel they contain. Here are few strategies to manage stress in children. Parents can avoid more stress in their children lives by making some changes in your children’s lives by following methods:

Set a Time-Table

With many alterations occurring at same time, children should capable to follow routine. It gives them structure to do work on same time. Moreover it provide consistency and stability in children.

Allow them to take decisions

Children feel they have no control or they are not allowed to do their own choices. Give them a chance to choose what they like when appropriate such as including meal choices, watching TV programs, games to play etc.

Talking time and sharing

Make interaction with your children. Try to talk with your children as a friend. Children hesitate to initiate a conversation so initiate conversation with them. Make meal together or do any activity together and continue talk during the activity. Eat meal together and all family member should participate in conversation.

This will give confidence to a child and he feels affection and love for his parents. Moreover, he will feel that he has support system so he is not alone in experiencing any stress. He will be have a strength to share any stressful event if he is going through.

Encouraging for activites

Encourage your children or try to make them involve in any healthy activity like sports, puzzle or any healthy activity they like. If your child shows resistance to participate in activity, request them to try for shorter period of time then make decide finally.

Make moments joyful

Keep enjoying and laughing with your children. Your all time anger nature make them aggressive too in their childhood as well as in their adulthood. Laugh with your children by watching any comedy program together or by reading jokes and involving in any activity. This will make attachment of your child with you and he will not bother to share any stress he is facing.

Physical Activity

Do any physical activity together either mild workout suitable for children or dance together by playing your child’s favorite music or cycling together. It will reduce stress in them.

Healthy Lifestyle

Focus on children’s healthy diet and avoid diet that can make children aggressive. Add fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and protein in their diet. Make sure their sleep should be fulfilled properly and they consume sufficient hours of sleep as deficient sleep is itself stressor. Try to make same sleep time every day which should be not very late.

Yoga

Yoga helps to reduce stress. Deep breathing practices are very effective to reduce stress. Try to do deep breathing practices and yoga together.

Stress management
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Interact with teachers

Keep interaction with their teachers and ask about child’s activities and performance. Ask if they are making friends or talking with class fellows. Request their teachers to tell you if they are noticing any negative sudden change in your child or if someone in class is bullying your child.

Child Education

There are sessions in which awareness has been created among children that how they know if someone is abusing them. These sessions are very useful as children learn the skills so that they can identify abuse and protect themselves.

Therapy

If you find any health issue physically or mentally which is not manageable easily so seek medical help immediately. This can prevent excess of stress in children and other health complications. Take help from Daycare providers, teachers, and other adults who is in frequent contact with children and have full knowledge and skills to identify any trauma they might have been exposed to.

Assessments

Timely checkups should be take place and should not be avoided. The assessment should not only retain to physical checkups but also cognitive behavior, emotions and social skills. If your child has faced any abuse so provide them psychotherapy and other related therapies. This will help to bring them back in their lives.

Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the signs, consequences, and causes of stress in families, particularly in parents and children, is crucial for effective stress management. By implementing appropriate strategies tailored to parents and children, families can mitigate stressors and cultivate healthier dynamics, ultimately fostering resilience and well-being within the family unit.

This article draws upon various scholarly sources including López-Liria et al. (2020) in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, as well as reputable online resources such as KidsHealth, SD Relationship Place, Mayo Clinic Health System, PsychCentral, and the University of Minnesota Conservancy to provide comprehensive insights into the signs, consequences, causes, and management strategies of stress in families, focusing on parents and children. By synthesizing evidence-based information, this article aims to equip families with practical tools to navigate and alleviate stress within the family unit effectively.

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By Dr. Mehwish Murad Ali

Hey there! 👋 Dr. Mehwish Murad Ali here, rocking the world of pharmacology as a PhD scholar and spreading my passion for knowledge as an Assistant Professor at Ziauddin University. When I'm not unraveling the mysteries of science, you can catch me sharing my insights on parenting hacks and embracing the magical chaos of family life at Cuddle Pixie. Let's embark on this parenting journey together!