Here are some of the study's findings:
- Stress Levels Are Extreme
One-third (32 percent) of parents report that their stress levels are extreme (a level of 8 - 10 on a 10-point scale) and parents overall --more--say they are living with stress levels that exceed their definition of healthy (parents report an average stress level of 6.1 on a 10- point scale while the average healthy level of stress reported by parents is a 3.9).
- Stress Management Is "Important" But Unsuccessful:
While many feel it's important to manage their stress (69 percent say managing stress is extremely or very important), few are being successful in their efforts (only 32 percent believe they are doing an excellent or very good job of managing their stress).
- Parents Are Unaware, Children Are Painfully Aware:
Parents underestimate the impact their stress has on the family as a whole, which could have far deeper health implications then they realize. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of parents of teens and tweens say that their stress has slight or no impact on their children, yet only 14 percent of children report that their parent's stress does not bother them. In addition, one-third of children (34 percent) say they know their parent is worried or stressed out when they yell.
- Stressed Parents Have Stressed Children:
Children who say their parent is always stressed are more likely to report having a great deal of stress themselves than those who say their parents are never stressed (17 percent vs. 2 percent).
- Teens and Tweens: Sad, Worried, Frustrated:
Nearly half of tweens (47 percent) and one-third of teens (33 percent) say they feel sad; one third of tweens (36 percent) and 43 percent of teens say they feel worried; and one-quarter (25 percent) of tweens and 38 percent of teens say they feel frustrated when their parents are stressed.
- Healthy Coping Is Difficult For Everyone:
More than half of parents say that it takes some or a great amount of effort to get their families to eat healthy foods (56 percent) and to get their families to be physically active (54 percent). At the same time, tweens and teens report that they turn to sedentary behaviors to make themselves feel better when they are really worried or stressed, such as listening to music (36 percent of tweens and 66 percent of teens), playing video games (56 percent of tweens and 41 percent of teens) or watching TV (34 percent of tweens and 30 percent of teens).
"Even though children know when their parents are stressed and admit that it directly affects them, parents are grossly underestimating the impact that their stress is having on their children," says psychologist Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA's executive director for professional practice in a press release. "It's critical that parents communicate with their children about how to identify stress triggers and manage stress in healthy ways while they're young and still developing behavioral patterns. If children don't learn these lessons early on, it could significantly impact their physical health and emotional well-being down the road, especially as they become adults."
Do these findings ring true for you? When you look around, do you see stressed children and parents? When you try to help your own family manage stress, is it hard to get them out of their sedentary coping activities? Share your thoughts in the comments section or in the Facebook group, and see the resources below for help. Stress management is important for families everywhere in America and worldwide, and if we start taking steps now toward healthier coping, we'll have healthier, less stressed families in the future.