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Helping Kids To Be “All Right” – Learning from the APA Stress in America Survey

January 3, 2010

The other day I was reading the latest issue of the American Psychological Association Monitor on Psychology. The headline that caught my attention most strongly was, “The Kids Aren’t All Right: New Data from APA’s Stress in America Survey Indicate Parents Don’t Know What’s Bothering Their Children.” The article was a summary of some of the data from a recent survey of children aged 8 to 17 and their parents. A disturbing aspect of the findings was that children reported experiencing greater levels of stress and physical symptoms related to stress than the parents of these children perceived them to be experiencing. As the article states, “There’s a disconnect between what children say they’re worrying about and what their parents think is stressing them.”

This information speaks loudly and clearly to me about the importance of learning to connect with and understand our children from the earliest years on. This is one of the cornerstones of my model of empowered parenting. Although this study didn’t address parents attunement with young children, I believe that learning to understand our children in the early years will set the stage for a lifelong relationship of understanding. My learning to tune in to your child when they are young, you are not only learning about your child, but you are training your mind to think in a way that seeks to understand another.

Understanding your child involves both some general child development knowledge about what is age-appropriate as well as specific knowledge about your own child’s individual uniqueness. What makes him tick? What causes her stress? How does she express it? As parents we need to train ourselves to be in the habit of asking those questions and learning the answers from early on. I believe that if we establish a practice of learning to connect with our children when they are young, the potential for the disconnect found in the preteen and teenage years can be lessened.

In my free report, “30 Things You Can Do To Raise Self-Confident, Compassionate Children,” I suggest several activities to help get you started on a path of understanding your child. If you haven’t already received the report, please visit www.drcuneo.com and click on the sign-up box to receive it. And if you’re interested in learning more about the Stress in America results, you can read more about the APA survey. I will write on another important part of the study – the high levels of the parents’ own stress – in a future post. In the meantime, I’d love your comments on how you connect with your children or difficulties that arise in your efforts to connect.

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