Do you feel stressed when locking up the coronavirus? Your kids can tell – no matter how hard you try to hide it, a study has found.
Researchers found that parents suppressing feelings of stress around their children can actually convey those emotions to their children.
Fathers were better at hiding their feelings for their children than assertive mums – but only because children are so used to fathers of their emotions.
Sara Waters of & # 39; Washington State University in & # 39; e FS and colleagues studied interactions between 107 parents and children, all of whom were seven to 11.
They found that young people got a physical reaction when their parents tried to hide their emotions.
Scroll down for video
Do you feel stressed when locking up the coronavirus? Your kids can tell – no matter how hard you try to hide it, a study has found
& # 39; We show that the reaction happens under the skin, & # 39; said Dr Waters.
& # 39; It shows what happens when we tell kids we are okay when we are not. It comes from a good place; we don't want to blame them. But we might be doing just the opposite. & # 39;
The researchers studied 107 parents – about half of whom were fathers – and their children, and first received baseline measurements from both parent and child before asking each to list the top five topics that caused conflict between them.
The parents and children were then divorced and each parent was asked to perform a stressful activity – such as public speaking – to activate the body's stress response system.
With the parent's appropriate emphasis, they brought in the corresponding child again and asked to have a conversation on the topic that ranked highest on both of their conflict lists.
Half of the parents were asked to suppress their emotions during the interview.
The interactions were all filmed and scored by third-party viewers who did not know which parents were in which group.
The parents and children also had sensors on their bodies to measure their physiological responses.
The researchers found that, for the groups of emotions suppressed, both parents and children were less warm and engaged with each other.
& # 39; That makes sense for a parent who is distracted by trying to keep their stress hidden, but the kids very quickly change their behavior to fit in with the parent, & # 39; said Dr Waters.
& # 39; So if you're stressed and just say "Oh, I'm fine," that only makes you less available to your kids.
& # 39; We found that the children healed and thought about it, which becomes a self-fulfilling dynamic.
The researchers found that mothers in the control group did not transfer their stress to their children. But, for mothers who did not want to suppress their emotions, their children exhibited more signs of stress, both physiologically and externally. It was not the same for fathers
The researchers found that mothers in the control group did not transfer their stress to their children.
But, for mothers who were not asked to suppress their emotions, their children exhibited more signs of stress, both physiologically and externally. It was not the same for fathers.
& # 39; We found that mums and dads were different, & # 39; said Dr Waters.
& # 39; We were looking for a physiological reaction, but there wasn't one in & # 39; a control still in & # 39; experimental condition where dads stress transferred to their children. & # 39;
& # 39; We think fathers do not transmit their suppressed stress, may be to & # 39; t often cause their emotions to suppress their children more than mothers do. & # 39;
& # 39; The children have experience with their father by saying that things are good even when they are not. & # 39;
& # 39; But it was more abnormal for children to see their mother suppress their emotions and they reacted to it. & # 39;
She explained that older people feel more out of control – and during a global pandemic, that feeling is likely to increase – the stronger they have an impulse to trust their children that all is well.
& # 39; Research shows that it is more comfortable for children to honor their feelings than simply being told "It is going well.", & # 39; Said Dr. Waters.
Just sit with them and give them the chance to regulate those emotions on themselves, & # 39; added them.
& # 39; Try not to show that you are frustrated with them, or solve their problem. And try to do the same for yourself, give yourself permission to be frustrated and emotional. & # 39;
Dr Waters said her biggest fear in publishing the study is that it will cause parents even more stress.
& # 39; We do not want this to be another thing that parents emphasize when raising their children, & # 39; she added.
& # 39; It's not that you're scared – but honor your children's feelings and feelings. & # 39;
& # 39; Be courageous enough to look forward to it. Children will work their way through; they are good at it. & # 39;
& # 39; Giving yourself permission to feel opens your mind to more and better problem solving. It's a good thing. & # 39;
The full findings of & # 39; the study were published in the Journal of Family Psychology.