Samples Psychology How Your Stress Affects Your Kids

How Your Stress Affects Your Kids

624 words 3 page(s)

Anxiety is considered to run in families. However, scientists have not been able to put a finger on a specific gene (Elley & al npag). That leaves open the possibility that stress and anxiety are not inherited but acquired and taught.

Studies on twins showed that stress could be present only in one child and it could possibly proceed to become a more serious mental disorder in the future, while the other child remained mostly unaffected. That means that environmental factors play an important role on the transmission of stress among family members (Elley & al npag). A recent study, which was conducted in Sweden, tested anxiety and neuroticism in a population of 385 monozygotic and 486 dizygotic same-sex twin families (Elley & al npag). The study aimed to find the underlying cause of stress in those children, and whether it was associated with genetic or environmental factors. The results showed high correlation between parental anxiety and offspring stress (Elley & al npag).

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It is evident that children learn neurotic behaviors by watching and imitating their parents. Their mother and father are the closest role models they have and the first people they encounter in their lives and share their most vulnerable age with. As a result, they develop their parents’ fears or they can redirect their anxious behavior to other subjects, different from the ones their parents are terrified of. Anxiety remains, though, regardless of the form it takes. It could lead to social isolation and the development of anxiety disorders, such as OCD, which manifests at a very early age, in pre-teen years. Agoraphobia, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression are only a few of the mental conditions associated with increased levels of stress. Even if none of the above-mentioned disorders occur, the child will probably grow up to be an insecure person, with low self-confidence and inability to cope with stressful situations. This would later have a negative impact in all of their relationships, which will be harmed by low self-esteem.

Stressful and anxious parents tend to be overprotective and teach their children that the world is an unsafe place (Elley & al npag). Moreover, they are often critical of their offspring, distant, less engaged and they usually display an overcontrolling tendency and negativity towards them (Elley & al npag). Studies have shown that the transmission of anxiety can go both ways. For instance, an anxious parent can raise children, who are vulnerable to stress and their subsequent stressful behavior might worsen the anxiety levels of the parent. Consequently, stress enters a vicious cycle, while it is being transmitted among family members.

At an early age, when the brain is still in its developmental phase and creates circuits between its regions, babies are prone to abnormal brain development due to parental stress (Elley & al npag). In fact, stress carries such powerful negativity that affects the embryo’s psychosynthesis, even before birth (Elley & al npag). After birth, the infant comprehends and mimics the way the parents react to their surroundings (Elley & al npag). In case their reaction is fearful, the child clings on to them asking for support and protection from its potentially dangerous environment.

To sum up, parental stress is a force of negativity in the upbringing of children and it can do more damage that people think. As a consequence, parents ought to learn to cope with their anxiety and overcome it, thus trying to remain composed and set a good example for their offspring. Their children will pick up their serenity and peace of mind and grow up to become capable of turning each failure into success and face challenges with a calm mind.

  • Elley, Thalia, et al. “The Intergenerational Transmission of Anxiety: A Children-of-Twins Study”, The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2015.