A parent experiencing momentary stress 06 May 2020

BY: admin

Psychology Team

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Experiencing stress and anxiety at various times as a parent will be familiar. All parents know that our role has its highs and lows. Whether our children are at school or home with us self-isolating, they are in our care and thoughts 24/7. It doesn’t take a pandemic for parents to feel anxiety and stress around the job of parenting. Life can throw us many curveballs along the way. First, though, let’s have a look at what we mean by parental stress and anxiety.

What is parental stress?

Parental stress is the sense of being overwhelmed, which occurs when the demands of parenting overtake our capacity to manage it all. We all have moments when we want to pull our hair out as we are driven crazy by the competing demands for our time.

Over the longer term, this consistent stress becomes a concern when it impacts negatively on our relationships with our children and reduces our capacity to support them. We may become irritable and grumpy and overly negative. Our relationships with partners may suffer as well. This situation feels awful, and we may judge ourselves badly. Worse still, our children will start to see and possibly copy our very poor coping strategies.

What is parental anxiety?

Parental anxiety is defined as excessive worrying about the current wellbeing and/or future needs of our child. Common to parents of children with a disability, it may also develop with families where a child presents with complex or challenging needs.

While all parents have moments of worry for their children, parental anxiety is a pattern of worry that is long-standing and of such an extent that it impacts on the daily functioning of the parent and/or child.

Parental anxiety can start to look like paralysis, where decisions become difficult if not avoided altogether. Parents find themselves trying to minimize any risks for their children, which is where the term helicopter parenting comes from. And again, poor coping strategies are being modelled. Additionally, the child picks up on the parent’s anxiety and may take this on themselves too.

What can you do about parental stress and anxiety?

The first step starts with recognizing that things are getting out of control and seeking help. At our Centre, we are currently seeing a spike in parental stress and anxiety. Hence, we are now opening our Parental Stress and Anxiety Clinic (PASC) to parents of children who are not currently accessing Child Wellbeing Centre services.

In PASC, we match you with a psychologist who can help you get on top of any stress and anxiety. Typically, this is about learning new ways of managing thoughts and feelings.  We also include opportunities to learn helpful parenting strategies and relaxation techniques. Sessions are currently available face to face or via online Telehealth sessions. All you need to do is let us know what will work best for you and we will make it happen.

Please contact our Reception on 9274 7062 for more information about our services and let them know that you are interested in PASC. We’re here to help!

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