Are you Causing Stress for Your Child?
Your Child’s Well Being Can be Affected by Your Reactions
by Sandy Gluckman
Every time I share a particular fact with the parents in my workshops and talks, I hear the audience gasp: I see the shocked look on their faces. What is it that I say to elicit this response? I tell them this:
“The way you interact with your children can affect the chemistry of both their body and their brain.”
I tell them: “Your words, your tone of voice and your body language can stimulate the production of stress chemicals in your child’s body. If you do this often enough, your child will be in a state of chronic stress – and chronic stress is the trigger for every symptom that our children experience.”
When I ask my listeners why they gasp, they always say that it never occurred to them that there is a relationship between what they as parents do and say and their child’s chemistry – whether it be good or bad. They all speak of realizing what a huge responsibility this represents! Then they begin to share their realization that all too often they themselves are stressed and tired, and interact with their kids in ways that are not conducive to building the healing relationships that stimulate the stress-resistant, calming and happy body and brain environment that all children need so badly.
Doctors report that they are encountering chronic stress in children more than ever before. This condition compromises the immune system, messes with digestion, interferes with the brain’s ability to learn and is the root cause of many problem behaviors. The parents often report that at the moment they are busily making appointments to see doctors of all specialties to deal with allergies, eczema, fatigue, anxiety, so-called ADD and ADHD, under-achievement, low motivation and depression, and many other difficult conditions. Too often, they do not make the connection between their child’s symptoms and their behavior as parents.
Let me say clearly that I am not here to criticize or scold parents. I know what it is like to feel tired and overwhelmed, and to react in ways that are unproductive. I myself have been there – done that! And I recognize that there are many different reasons for a child to feel stress. Kids of all ages are under enormous pressure to perform well academically, socially and athletically. This is their reality, and we as parents do not often have the power to change it. The one area where we can make a dramatic difference in reducing their stress is in the parent-child relationship.
Stressed parents are more likely to have stressed children, because the kind of parent-child interaction that takes place in this situation triggers stress chemicals in the children. Parents who have acquired the skills necessary to build to build stress-free relationships with their children will have calmer, more resilient and happier kids.
Please stop for a moment, sit quietly and reflect on the kind of relationship you have with your children. If it is calm, centered, warm and tranquil, with clear boundaries and expectations and lots of fun, then congratulate yourself. If there are too many tense and conflict-filled conversations, ask yourself how you can reduce and remove stress in your own life so that you are free to be a healing parent.