Being a parent brings out a range of powerful emotions from exhilaration to despair. Your feelings of love, happiness and pride may quickly turn to anger, hate or guilt, depending on the situation and the degree of support available to you. These feelings are completely normal. Most parents experience negative emotions from time to time.

Stress has now become a normal part of our life. We all encounter stress in a variety of situations, forms and degree. What causes stress for one person may seem like no big deal to someone else. The most important thing to do is to recognize, accept and manage your stress to avoid negative (physical and emotional) consequences. Stress that is not managed can degenerate into a chronic stage. Chronic stress has been shown to suppress your immune system, increase blood pressure, blood sugar levels and exacerbate underlying conditions like anxiety and depression.
When we encounter an event or situation that our body deems as challenging or stressful, our brain responds by perceiving it as a threat. This response, in turn, initiates several hormonal and physiological changes, such as increased heart rate, feelings of nausea or sweating.

Being a parent is, perhaps, the most important role we have in life; however, it can also be one of the most stress-producing roles. Getting the family ready to start the day on time, mediating sibling arguments, caring for restless infants, attending to many other daily events and challenges can lead to parental stress. The various types of parental stress you experience can have an impact on your behaviour and can, in turn, influence your child’s behaviour and well-being. High parental stress has been shown to lead to several undesirable family situation including the following:
• Marriage challenges
• Decreased physical and mental health
• Increased parenting challenges, and
• Increased behaviour challenges in children.

Research consistently shows that parenting stress and poor behaviour in children often occur in a cycle. In other words, when children act out, these actions can increase the parents’ levels of stress, the parents react to the stress, and their reactions, then, influence the child’s behavioural pattern. For parents, their child’s behaviour can be the source of their parenting stress. On the other hand, poor behaviour can be the child’s stress reaction to a parent who is visibly stressed.

Developmental Delays and Parental Stress.
Parents of children who have exceptional needs often face additional challenges and report higher levels of stress than other parents. In addition, children who have cognitive developmental challenges are more likely to exhibit poor behaviour, which can lead to increased parental stress. All families with children who have exceptional needs can experience more problems at home and less parental satisfaction when compared to other families. Often, the stressors that come with raising children who experience developmental delays can increase at a faster rate and often reoccur more frequently. For example, as a child with developmental delays nears school age, their parents may have more and different decisions to consider, such needing to collaborate with school personnel to ensure the child’s needs are met and identify associated school-support staff. Other times, parents may experience stress when they compare their child’s development to other children of the same age.

How to Address Your Stress and Your Child’s Behaviour at The Same Time.

Because the stress of parenting impacts the behaviour of children and vice versa, approaching both issues at once may be a good option. Several studies have shown that, when parents are able to reduce their levels of stress, their child’s behavioural problems also decrease. Improving your relationship with your child is one way to tackle parenting stress and behavioural issues at the same time. Acts of charity and kindness are often associated with stress reduction and improved behaviour, so consider finding a volunteer opportunity that you and your child can participate in together. Let your child know how they are helping someone else and how this effort is positive. In another example, try talking to your child about stressful moments after they happen, so you and your child have a better understanding of the situation and you, as the parent, know that your child understands the situation. Research has shown that, for parents of children who have developmental delays, using mindfulness-based stress-reduction tools have a substantially positive impact on these families.


Ways to Alleviate Parenting Stress.
• Use meditation, practice yoga, or write in a journal.
• Engage in social connections, especially through parenting groups.
• Ensure you allot enough time to complete daily tasks. Research indicates that time pressure is one of the leading causes of parental stress.
• Get adequate sleep. Rest is a critical part of stress management. Having children can hinder getting a good night’s rest; however, parents may want to be mindful of the amount of rest they get. For example, you may want to establish and maintain bedtime or limit caffeine use for 8 hours before bedtime.
• Exercise. Establish exercise routines, if possible, to enhance your probability of continuing regular exercise. Get your heart rate up in ways you enjoy. Research shows that regular exercise increases your well-being and helps reduce your body’s reactions to stress.

Ways to Improve Behaviour in Children.

• Enrol in parenting-education courses. Studies reveal that parenting courses offer stress-reduction discussions and trainings, which can help participants reduce parental stress and other negative feelings.
• Do not tolerate or ignore poor behaviour. Ignoring poor or unhealthy behaviour can lead to you exhibiting a more severe reaction.
• Help your children learn emotional regulation. Have intentional, in-depth discussions with your child about the times when they should try to remain calm and explain how they can manage their emotions when they become stressed.
• Try to anticipate your child’s triggers. Identify what types of situations provoke your child and help them understand what is happening during these times and how to cope with these circumstances and their feelings.