How mom and dad's stress affects kids - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

How mom and dad's stress affects kids


Madison (WKOW) -- Being a parent in and of itself can be stressful at times.

Add that to all the other little stresses that come along with life this time of year, and you can have a parent, who's wound pretty tight.

And whether you verbalize your stress or not, one psychologist says your kids can still pick up on your stress.

"They pick up on the emotions related to that, the feelings related to that, and they pick up on the behavior related to that.", says Dr. Katie Watermolen of UW Health.

She says stress typically builds this time of year.

For most people there are a lot of extra responsibilites to add onto an already packed schedule.

There's the shopping, maybe getting the house ready for guests, or getting your travel plans together.

And for many families this year, there is the added stress of the economy.

Some are wondering how to pay the bills and still have money left over for gifts.

Dr. Watermolen says all parents get stressed, and as difficult as it may be, try not to let it show.

Try not to talk about finances in front of them, or your concerns about not having the money to buys gifts, for example.

She says when parents are stressed, kids are more stressed.

"What i see in my practice is as a result of that, you see more acting out, see more aggressive behavior, you see more defiance."

Even newborns can pick up on a parent's stress, so it's not just kids who can understand what's being said.

Dr. Watermolen says just try to be aware of how you're feeling.

When you know you're really stressed around the kids, take a deep breath and try to find something to do that you can all enjoy, going for a walk, or going to the park.

Or maybe you can even get a babysitter for a short time.

And again, all parents get stressed at times.

And while it's best not to show your stress, that isn't always possible.

So Dr. Watermolen feels it can help to talk to kids about your stress, explain that you're feeling irritable, crabby or frustrated.

You don't need to tell kids specifically what you are stressed about, but it's important to open the dialague about feelings, because the kids will know if you're feeling or acting differently.

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