How your work stress can affect your kids

Stress is not all bad–it is the body’s way of dealing with dangers. Stress becomes damaging when the body is forced to cope with it all the time, at which point it becomes what is known as “chronic stress.”

When you are stressed due to some event or situation, your body goes into “fight-or-flight mode.” It releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol (popularly called the stress hormone) that have various effects, such as increase in blood pressure and heart rate, greater availability of glucose in the bloodstream, higher consumption of glucose by the brain, and suppression of organ systems that do not have an immediate role in fighting off the attack–the digestive system and the reproductive system. These hormones also change the way the immune system responds to foreign bodies.

This is all good, except when this happens all the time. That’s when these helpful functions end up causing damage to the body, literally eating you away from within.


Stressors–Work stress

Anything that causes stress is known as a stressor. Your office can be a significant source of stress. Today, we are all rushing to climb the corporate ladder as fast as we can, even if we have to step on someone’s toes to do it. Obviously, this causes a lot of tension and heartache. While a certain amount of stress actually helps you perform better, too much stress for too long can beat you down.


Effect of work stress on babies

What is truly worrying is that work stress is not just harmful for your mind and body, it is damaging for your children as well. Surprised?

Your children have a keen understanding of things around them, including when you are stressed. You may think that you are able to hide your stress, but you’re not aware that your children are able to pick up on subtle cues.

A research study has shown that when the parents of children who are in their first few years of life are highly stressed, it has an effect on the genes of the child. These genes may control functions like the development of the brain and the production of insulin. This phenomenon is known as epigenetics–when the function of certain genes is turned on or turned off due to the effect of environmental factors. These effects on the genes appeared to remain even until the child grows to become an adolescent.


Effects of work stress on toddlers

Toddlerhood may seem like all games and fun, but it isn’t. When toddlers join playschool for the first time, they suffer from separation anxiety. The stress of separating from their parents and the fear of being abandoned plays on their minds significantly. This stress is reflected in their unruly behavior–they tend to become more aggressive and attention-seeking–essentially “acting up” in front of their parents in order to get their concentration.

Toddlers may also experience bullying and milder forms of violence in school, which may overwhelm them. Some children become withdrawn, whereas others behave uncontrollably.

Any sudden change in the personality of your toddler should be looked into for the underlying cause.

Effects of work stress on teenagers

Whether you like it or not, teenage is a time when the opposite genders are beginning to take an interest in each other. It is also a time when their self-confidence drops and they seek approval from their peer group, trying to appear “cool.”

Complications arising from trouble with their love life can snowball into depression and suicidal behavior. If you’re too busy with your work problems or you’re battling your own work stress, you may miss the subtle clues that tell you that there’s something amiss with your teen daughter or son.

Need of the Hour

To sum-up, what we need to do is to identify whether we’re suffering from work-related stress:

  • Are you thinking about a conversation with your boss while playing with your child?
  • Are you worrying about work spillover while cooking dinner?

Next, we need to actively watch our behavior and catch ourselves when we start to feel anxious about something. We should work on managing stress through creative outlets–and if we can involve our children in these creative activities, all the better!

Having fun with our children and spending quality time with them is much more valuable than giving them expensive and sophisticated gifts.

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