Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Do Stressed Out Parents = Stressed Out Kids?
I am not afraid to kill bugs. Spiders? No problem. I squash them without a second thought. Hubby works so much that I really had to learn the art of killing bugs very early in our marriage. Here is a bug I found in Little Buddy's mouth one time. Did I freak out? Nope. I just fished it out of his mouth and went about my day.
However, wasps and anything that buzzes really scares the you know what out of me. For some reason I have the impression that I will avoid being stung if I squirm around while flapping my arms and squealing like a little girl. So far, it does actually seem to work fairly well.
Last weekend the weather was amazing. We had the back door open and we ate breakfast on the patio and the kids played outside while we sipped our morning coffee (and tea for me). It was pure bliss until I had to go inside for a refill. While I was inside, I heard a buzzing, followed by "Mommmmiiiiiee!!! Big buuuuuug!!!!"
I ran over and found the biggest bee/wasp you've ever seen. Little Buddy innocently wandered over there to see what was making all the noise. I must admit that I freaked out a little. Okay, a lot. I rushed over, grabbed him and told him to stay with me. I held him tight while screaming at the top of my lungs, "Get in here!! We have a huge wasp. Hurry!!!"
Hubby calmly came in, got the fly swatter, killed the wasp, and then went back outside. The chaos was over, but then Little Buddy didn't want to go back outside. He started saying, "Mommy scared." His eyes were wide with fear. I had thoroughly terrified the poor little guy. I tried to take him outside to show him everything was fine now. I let him sit on my lap and I patted his back and assured him that I wasn't scared anymore. I tried to distract him by reading him a book and then pointing out the birds and the trees. Unfortunately, every time I said something and asked for a response, his reply was always, "Mommy scared". He was literally almost shaking. Oops.
I guess I can see why it's hard for kids to see their Moms be scared about something. They certainly don't like to see us cry. This made me realize that I need to simmer down a bit, and an article I read recently really seems to confirm this. A study in the April release of Pediatrics found that premature babies whose parents were stressed or depressed were more likely to develop behavior problems by the age of three. Now, of course, my kids weren't premies, and they aren't even babies anymore, so this study probably doesn't strictly apply, but I do think that the overall premise makes sense and was demonstrated that day when my own personal bias toward wasps scared Little Buddy so much. When I think back, I was incredibly stressed with my first baby and she was also a very excitable child. She used to panic if her room wasn't exactly the same very single night. We worried that she would end up with OCD or high anxiety, but I have mellowed a lot as she's gotten older and I think she's mellowed with me. Coincidence? Could be, but I think not. To me, stress breeds stress and this just reinforces that I really to chill out. On that note, I think I'll go pour myself a bubble bath and a glass of wine.
PS...Don't worry...we ended up going to the zoo later and when we came home, Little Buddy had forgotten the entire thing and ran outside with Big Sis. I didn't permanently damage him for life. Phew!
PPS...Please don't take this to mean that I am blaming every parent who has a child with OCD. I fully understand that there around dozens of other factors that contribute to behavior problems, and some are simply genetics or a fluke, but I do think kids learn by example and so for me personally, I am going to try to portray a nice, calm, Zen exterior even if I am squirming and squealing in my own head. We'll see how it goes.
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