Compared to the stresses and responsibilities of parenthood, you might think childhood is an easy, carefree stage of life. But this isn’t always true!
Current studies show that adolescents and young adults are 5 times more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression than children from previous generations. And according to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children. This can put them at risk for a variety of problems, from sleep disorders to poor school performance.
But why are our children so stressed?
Well, environment can contribute. According to the Chief Medical Officer of Genexa, Dr. Mark Menolascino, “The fast-paced culture we live in today is typically more than a child’s nervous system can handle.” Limiting the number of stressors in your child’s environment is a great preventative step to keeping stress levels low.
Be aware, though, that your own stress as a parent can affect your children as well. “When parents are stressed,” says Dr. Mark, “We find a trickle-down effect to their children, and this intersection between environmental and parental stress is contributing to the skyrocketing cases of stress, anxiety and mood disorders.” In other words, your children can pick up on the stress that you feel in your day-to-day life and suffer the consequences.
Symptoms of stress in both adults and children can be both physical and mental, from headaches to anxiety and difficulty concentrating. If you’re concerned about the effects of stress on your child, watch out for signs like drastic changes in behavior or sudden and unexplained physical illnesses like stomach aches.
“Providing children with a sense of calm is critical in today’s families,” says Dr. Mark. You can help by caring for your own mental health, to protect your child from the effects of trickle-down stress.
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