As parents, we usually feel that it’s our job to protect our kids. We want to shelter them from anything that can do them harm or cause them pain. Avoid anything that’ll disappoint them or cause them sadness.
This is obvious in the way we hold their hand while crossing the road and keep them away from hot things in the kitchen. But we also do it in more subtle ways by hiding things from them. We try not to let them see when we’re sad or stressed out. We hide our real emotions because we don’t want them to be affected. But they’re often smarter than we give them credit for…
“90% of kids say they know when their parents are stressed”.
American Psychoanalytic Association
You might think that you’re doing a really good job of hiding your stress. Maybe you’re pushing your anxiety to the back of your mind and just trying to get on with your day. But kids have a knack for seeing through our masks and noticing things that adults don’t. Here are some ways that they pick up on our stress…
They Pick Up On Body Language
Children have an amazing ability to read body language. They notice subtle things like heavy footsteps or slouching posture that give away our mood. We might not be slamming doors or throwing things, but they know when we’re angry or frustrated. So, even though you think you’d hiding your emotions, it’s likely that they know when something’s not right.
They Pay Attention To Expressions
This is especially true for younger kids who haven’t yet started using cell phones. Both adults and teenagers can become completely engrossed in their tech, to the point where they fail to notice others. But children are different… They notice when you pick them up from school but don’t smile immediately. They see the furrow in your brow when you’re thinking about work. And they know when we’re only half-listening because we’re distracted by worries.
They Overhear Our Conversations
As much as we do our best to shield them away from stress, kids have a way of overhearing things. Sometimes we think they’re playing while we’re chatting with a friend and don’t realize they’re right outside the door. Sometimes they’re supposed to be sound asleep but overhear a conversation. According to research by the American Psychoanalytic Association, some kids ‘eavesdrop from the top of the stairs or even listen on extensions to private phone conversations, with the “mute” key pressed’. So as savvy as they are at picking up on all the small things, they often just sneakier at hearing things we don’t intend them too.
Does Stress Impact Kids?
As much as we try to protect them, kids will pick up on our stress. They see through our disguises and know when something isn’t right. Sometimes this might cause them to worry too but it’s not always a bad thing. Stress is a natural part of life and something we all need to adapt to. If you’re going through a bad time then it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s damaging your kids. They’re amazingly caring but also incredibly resilient.
But if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, then it is worth facing it head-on. Addressing the root cause will help you to solve the problem for good instead of simply ‘coping’. Surviving and thriving are not the same thing – I want to help you to do the latter! Which is why I created the ‘Quit Quitting On Yourself Challenge‘. It’s designed to help moms conquer stress, overwhelm, lack of time, and motivation. Learn more about it here.