Maryville, Mo. – With the approach of Halloween, children are looking forward to being scared by witches, ghost, and vampires. But many adults experience a different type of fear in their daily parenting.
Ken Thom, L.P.C., and family counselor, believes that fear plays a large role in inhibiting effective parenting. "Human behavior arises from one of only two emotions: fear or love. Fear causes stress, which manifests itself in reactions such as anxiety, anger, and resentment. Sympathy, patience, kindness, and understanding result from the emotion of love."
The human brain codes new stimulus as danger until it is deemed otherwise. When parents are overwhelmed with too much information, such as the myriad of demands put on them by work, family, and home, their brains trigger emotional responses such as anxiety, confusion and self doubt.
"Parents face new parenting challenges every day, causing fear, which leads to stress," said Thom. “Children are sensitive to their parents' emotional states. If Mom and Dad are experiencing fear in the form of anxiety and stress, they can transfer these feelings to their child, who does not have the emotional maturity to distinguish between his own feelings and those of his parents.”
Thom offers tips to parents for responding to feelings of stress and anxiety caused by fear:
Take time to relax – our bodies respond to chronic stress in many physical ways. When we allow ourselves private time to relax by enjoying a hobby or reading a book, we will be equipped to respond more positively to parenting challenges.
Decide when to respond – not every parenting situation requires an immediate response. By taking a step back, counting to 10, or leaving the room for three deep breaths, parents can often respond in a way that will keep the emotional fallout to a minimum.
Create routines - set regular times for wake-up, meals, homework, play, and bedtime and stick to them. Both parents and children can benefit emotionally and physically from regular schedules.
Exercise – studies have shown that regular exercise reduces stress in our bodies by releasing helpful chemicals such as oxytocin, which helps offset the cortisol produced by stress. Parents that exercise with their children are helping them build lifelong habits as well as combating stress.
Talk to someone – develop a support network of friends and/or family members. Parents that don’t receive the emotional support they need from those close to them should contact a minister, rabbi, or family counselor.
"I encourage parents to have the courage to express their true feelings to someone. Recognizing that we, as parents, are afraid of making mistakes, and welcoming new challenges as opportunities to grow, are the first steps in parenting from a place of love," said Thom.
"As a parent and adoptive parent, I know how challenging this can be. However, as we become emotional havens, our children will be drawn to us so that we can help them function at their optimal level."
Thom, who is also the author of “Christian Parent Wisdom,” received a B.A. from the University of Missouri, and Masters of Science-Counseling Psychology, from Northwest Missouri State University. He specializes in assisting individuals, families, and children in trauma or distress. For more information, visit http://kenthomcounseling.com/
If you need more information or would like to schedule an interview with Ken Thom, please contact Rashel Carnefix at (719) 445-9582 or firstname.lastname@example.org