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5 ways you're unknowingly causing your child stress
Your child may be stressed, and you may not even know it. In fact, you might be causing it. - photo by Jenna Koford
Some people believe children can't feel stress, or children don't have anything to worry about. But signs of early stress in a child can be the beginning of a long road of worry, learning disabilities, and even depression. No amount of naps can cure a stressed-out child, especially if you aren't listening to his or her needs.

Each family has their own goals, but peace and happiness should be part of every family's aims.

Here are 5 ways you might be causing your child stress, even if your child doesn't show it:

1. You're stressed out, and it shows

Many worn-out mothers and fathers only focus on their children, forgetting to take care of themselves first. It may seem selfish, but it works the same way on an airplane: you put your own oxygen mask on before helping your child. If you don't give yourself a little rest or organization, you won't be able to help others.

2. You make hurtful comments without realizing it

Whether you're commenting on your child's messy pants, or the weight they've gained, the things you say will stick. That doesn't mean you have to give only compliments all day long, but it does mean you should watch what words you throw around. If you tell your child they are lazy and have no skills, they'll believe you.

3. You push them too hard

Even if he's born to be a professional basketball player, your son may not want that. Be careful about pushing your children to do things they don't want to do. Talk to them regularly, and ask them specifics about their interests and hobbies. Do you even know your child's favorite food or favorite family activity?

You and your spouse can determine how you discipline your children, but if you push them too hard, they may resent you or hide away. If your child is resting on the couch after school, don't immediately demand that they get up and do something. Let them be kids, but don't spoil them.

4. You give them too many things to do at one time

Some parents like to leave long lists of chores that their kids must complete by the time the parents get home. Many children may see this as stressful, and they may not know where to begin. If lists work for you, keep doing them. At the top of the list, you can write down the top three chores that absolutely need to get done. Then, add in smaller tasks that are "bonus" chores for the children to work on.

If you pile things onto your children, they're more likely to forget about one of the things they were supposed to do. Don't use your child as a place for you to dump all your work onto.

5. You don't pay attention to them

Yes, we know you've watched your daughter twirl around 18 times already, but she really loves it when you act excited. Find that balance between getting your own tasks done and paying attention to your children. Even better, involve your children in what you're doing, if they can help.

One story talked about a young girl coming home from school, ready to tell her mother everything. The mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner. The daughter talked and talked about her day, and then she suddenly stopped. She said, "Mom, you're not listening to me."

The mother said, "Yes I am, honey."

The daughter then replied, "No, Mom, you're not listening with your eyes."

Sometimes we may rush throughout our day and view our children as barriers, or worse, tools we can use to clean the house. Children can experience very real stress, and they should feel comfortable coming to you to talk about anything they need to. Be those peaceful arms of comfort for your child, and you'll feel the love and relaxation grow in your home.
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