KIPS Blog: Parenting Assessment in Practice & Research

How Can We Help Parents Cope with the Burden of Toxic Stress?

Posted by Marilee Comfort on Fri, Dec 06, 2019 @ 11:54 AM

Do the Holidays Bring Joy or Stress?

A little stress in life can be useful. It may motivate people to stop procrastinating, take better care of their health, or explore new opportunities. However, too often the lavishness of the holidays depicted in stores and in advertisements may bring families stress rather than joy. These messages may act as reminders of the stress from lack of food and clothing for their family, lack of safe, stable housing, insufficient health care, or violence in their family or neighborhood.  This stress for parents and children may grow heavier in the face of our society’s extravagant holiday glee.  Eventually, the accumulation of such burdens takes a toll on parents’ and children’s mental or physical health and well-being.  The continual weight can lead to toxic stress when powerful, frequent or ongoing harmful experiences trigger a person’s defenses to freeze, fight or flee.  Carrying this burden of toxic stress can be so overwhelming that it disrupts a family’s nurturance, their relationships and routines.

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Tags: parent-child relationship, engagement-parent, family, community, adverse experiences/toxic stress, family support-partnership-services, coping with stress