The Parent-Stress Cycle


It’s no secret, we all know parents who are stressed out! Stressed out parents often say they have a harder time managing their parenting role, and question whether they are doing a good enough job of raising their children.

Parent-stress can be experienced in four ways:

  1. Personal stress – feeling overwhelmed by everyday life
  2. Marital/relationship stress – too much conflict or disconnection from each other
  3. Parenting stress – the numerous day-to-day challenges of raising children are getting to you
  4. Little or no social support – you feel alone and/or get little help with parenting.

The Parent-Stress Cycle

So, of course the cycle starts off with stress, whether it be just one of the types or perhaps it may be all four! Parenting stress is often related to unhelpful parent thoughts about the child (i.e. “my child acts up on purpose”), about ourselves as parents (i.e. “I have no control over my child. I have tried everything”) and about who needs to change (i.e. the teacher, my partner, or my child needs to change, all of us would be better if they/my child would change”). At times, parents can experience so many unhelpful parent thoughts that they become stuck – not knowing what to do next – and this can lead to further inaction (and frustration and heartache). A perception of “not knowing what to do” can interfere with parenting behaviour such as:

  • a) less nurturing behaviour from the parent to the child,
  • b) less parent involvement with the child,
  • c) ineffective or inconsistent discipline, and/or
  • d) negative parent-child interactions (e.g. yelling, threatening).

What often follows is that children can start to show signs of a struggle and that they are experiencing their own type of stress. Reducing stress can make anyone a better parent it may seem, however understanding the parent-stress cycle can also provide a few handy clues as to where to start.

If you are finding it difficult managing the effects of parenting stress in your life, and would benefit from understanding how the parent-stress cycle affects you, please contact Attuned Psychology to make an appointment for you with one of our experienced psychologists.

Subscribe to our newsletter Attuned Life

Would you be interested in receiving our occasional newsletter, event information and other useful tips via e-mail?

Subscription Form