Stress Is Affecting Our Kids

Whether you’re a parent or not, the recent 2010 Stress in American report by the American Psychological Association is something we need to pay attention to. One of their major findings was that our adult stress is affecting kids, especially when it comes to the effects of parental stress on families.

Here’s an excerpt from the report summary:

“Overall, these findings suggest that parents are underestimating their child’s awareness of their stress and, therefore, the impact it could be having on their child’s emotional well-being.

  • One-third of children age 8 – 17 believe their parent has been always or often worried or stressed out about things during the past month.
  • Four in 10 children say they feel sad when their parent is stressed or worried.
  • One-third of children (34 percent) say they know their parent is worried or stressed out when they yell. Other signs of parental stress recognized by children are arguing with other people in the house, complaining or telling children about their problems, and being too busy or not having enough time to spend with them.
  • One in five children worry a lot or a great deal about things in their lives, but very few parents (8 percent) report that their child is experiencing a great deal of stress (8, 9, or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10).
  • Nearly a third of children indicated in the past month that they experienced physical health symptoms that are often associated with stress: 38 percent reported trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night. Thirty-three percent experienced headaches, and 31 percent reported having an upset stomach in the past month.”

Whether you’re a youth leader or a parent, odds are good that the kids in your life can tell when you’re stressed and that your stress affects them. Stress doesn’t just hurt us; it hurts the kids we care about.

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Kara Powell
Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a twenty year youth ministry veteran, she speaks regularly at youth ministry conferences and is the author or co-author of a number of books including Deep Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.