Reducing Parent’s Stress Increases Children’s Self Esteem

Michael E. Bernard, Ph.D.
Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Emeritus Professor, California State University, Long Beach
Founder, You Can Do It! Education

Here’s some vital news for parents who are stressed

Everyone knows that healthy self-esteem is crucial to a child’s sense of value and self-worth. What is less well known is the fact that high stress in parents is associated with lower levels of their kid’s self-esteem.

This finding is not surprising as research around the world reveals that styles of parenting are associated with children and adolescent depression. The gong (poor quality performance) goes to the “authoritarian” style of parenting
(rigid rules enforced with harshness) while parental warmth and support is associated with higher levels of well-being.

Parenting research also indicates that stressful life events and daily parenting hassles can lead to negative emotions and problem behaviors in pre-school-age children. Different links have been found between parent stress and children’s
problems. Here’s one: child behavioural issue links to dad or mum becoming stressed leads to weaker parent-child interactions leads to child having mood and further behavioural issues.

Here’s the great news! In a study of a group of primary-age children and their Mums identified as highly stressed, parenting skills training resulted in higher self-esteem levels in the kids – and less parent stress.

Sessions in parenting skills included:

  • how to encourage children through positive reinforcement
  • how to set limits on kids’ behaviour
  • sharing decision-making with kids
  • self-managing strong emotions through positive self-talk and relaxation
  • respecting feelings

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