What is Family Stress?
Stress can have an enormous impact on family life. A person suffering from family stress is probably more sensitive and irritable than normal. S/he may argue with the family over matters that usually wouldn’t provoke such a response. A stressed parent may snap at children over the smallest thing, causing more tension and upset. When one person in a family is experiencing high stress levels, everyone else feels the stress too. Family members may feel as if they are walking on eggshells.
Family is important, but there’s no rule that says you have to like or get along with everyone you’re related to all of the time.
The most common causes of stress in family life are money, raising children, work and health.
“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future. “
“Friends are the family you choose for yourself “
Jess C Scott
Young children who do not sleep, do not seem to do as they are told, won’t eat, are ill…… all stressors that every parent can do without.
Then comes school and the stress of their doing well or not, making suitable friends, sibling rivalry …… in teenage years they worry about their children’s’ exams, sexuality, drugs and alcohol, peer pressure, paying for uni… the list is endless and can put a strain on relationships all round.
At the other end of the scale- elderly parents can be a worry too. Can they cope or do they make demands on your time? Dealing with elderly parents and children at the same time is becoming increasingly common and it robs you of time for your relationship which in turn causes more stress.
Ill health within the family, especially if it is long term is very stressful.
Hospitalisation for any family member is disruptive and unsettling, whatever the condition and this is worsened if the illness is critical or fatal.
Bereavement affects different family members in different ways and sometimes it is hard to communicate or understand the grief of others when trying to cope with your own.
How do you tell a child that their beloved grandparent has died and be calm when you are devastated yourself? Do you allow your child to go to the funeral or not? These situations are always very stressful and if not successfully handled can cause a long lasting impact on the family. We all do what we believe to be right at the time but in retrospect, when under enormous stress, we make mistakes.
STRESS TIPS for PARENTS
- Prepare your child for potentially stressful events, such as a first visit to the dentist or the birth of a sibling. Explain what will probably happen and how they might feel
- Support them when they try to express their fear, hurt, anger in whichever way they know how.
- Listen to them and acknowledge that their feelings are real.
- Help your child to identify a variety of coping strategies – what to do “if” (examples – if they see an accident, if a stranger talks to them, if they are bullied)
- Help your child to recognize, name, accept, and express his/her feelings appropriately
- Teach your child relaxation techniques like “take three deep breaths”; “count backwards”; “tense and release your muscles” “imagine you are in your favourite place” etc
- Talk positively to your child – encourage him and her all the time, tell them you love them EVERY day
- Differentiate between the being and the behaviour – it’s their behaviour that makes you react so help them change their behaviour to something more beneficial to them!
- Stay positive yourself because children learn what they see and hear
- Purchase a set of “worry dolls” from STRESSWORX – children tell their worries and secrets to the dolls
- Ask for a personalised CD with your child’s favourite character involved in an adventure which addresses issues
You look forward to going away, or spending Christmas together , get everything sorted and what happens? You fall out! Arguments, bickering and it all goes horribly wrong!
When you think about everyday family life – you are not all together all the time and then suddenly you are thrust together and expected to have fun and get along in perfect harmony!
Mum is usually stressed and tired out from doing all the washing, ironing, packing, pets to vet , last minute shopping etc and dad is trying to clear his desk at work and make sure nothing untoward happens whilst he is away. The kids are probably excited but don’t want to leave friends or pets behind – stressed? Yes of course you are!!
HOLIDAY STRESS TIPS
- Be realistic!
- Get as many early nights as possible BEFORE you go way
- Talk through worries or concerns as they arise
- Ask your children to tell you if anything is worrying them
- Have a Family “To Do List” and discuss progress each evening
- Involve everyone in planning trips out
- Accept that everyone won’t want to do the same things
- Shop well in advance – avoid last minute pressures
- Feeling stressed? Ask for a hug or find some personal space
- Relax and Enjoy!
REMEMBER – Stress is invisible – tell someone how you are feeling.
Stress saps your energy. It takes the joy out of living life. Learn to manage your stress rather than letting it control you.
Learn EFT and stay in control of your feelings.