Here’s How Your Mood Could Be Impacting Your Family
by Mia Barnes
You had a wretched day at the office. When your 5-year-old asks you what’s for dinner, you snap, “I don’t know. Go ask your father.” You catch a glimpse of her face crumpling as she turns away, dejected and unsure what she did wrong.
As a parent, you are the center of your child’s world. They look for guidance, and despite what you say, they will often imitate what you do. Your mood can impact your family in the following eight ways — pay attention to avoid unwittingly causing unnecessary harm.
1. You Influence Their Habits
What do you do when you come home after a trying day? If it’s sofa-city and Netflix, expect that your loved ones will imitate your example.
Instead of collapsing in front of the boob tube, why not try listening to music to de-stress? Movement boosts mood, and if your little ones see you dancing around the living room, they might laugh and join in on the fun. Challenge each other to a dance-off to see who can invent the craziest moves and see if your mood doesn’t lift.
2. You Impact Their Diets
Stress-eating contributes to the obesity epidemic, and your children aren’t immune. Nearly one-fifth of American children qualify as obese, and more fall into the overweight category. Unfortunately, it doesn’t become any easier to shed the pounds as they grow older.
However, if your coping mechanism includes a giant bag of salty chips, your kids will imitate you. Plus, your spouse might likewise overindulge.
It’s OK to have a snack, but eat it mindfully. Sit down at the table without your favorite gadget and savor the texture and flavor. If one of your littles asks to join you, use the opportunity to chat about their day.
3. You Affect Their Activity Level
When you feel depressed, you might experience debilitating fatigue, even if you get adequate rest. Unfortunately, this lack of enthusiasm can result in crashing on the couch, and your kids will take notice and change their behavior accordingly.
At first, they may beg you to take them to the park, but after repeated attempts fall short, they’ll find other things to do. Their activities might take the form of video games or more computer time — neither of which provide the exercise young bodies need to thrive.
4. You May Hinder Communication
Have you heard the expression, “don’t poke the bear?” If you walk around in a perpetually grumpy mood, your kids might hesitate to approach you — about anything.
Unfortunately, they may feel neglected. You might not worry much when they remain at an age where their most pressing concern is whether the tooth fairy will visit. However, you’ll lament your inaccessibility when they hit their teens, and you want to discuss weightier topics, like sex.
5. Your Kids Imitate Your Anger Style
Do you fly into a rage at the least provocation? If so, don’t act surprised when you get a call from your child’s teacher accusing them of backtalk or tantrums.
Everyone loses it now and then, but if your coping mechanisms include slamming doors and shouting, your kids will do the same. This lack of anger management can get them in trouble at school and potentially with authorities. Try to stay calm, and if you need to vent, try to do so safely beyond earshot.
6. Your Children Could Develop Mental and Physical Illnesses
If you let your mood impact your family life to the point where your children experience trauma, you could set them up for mental and physical illnesses later in life. Research indicates that people who have witnessed events like domestic violence often have adrenaline surges that take a toll on their psyches and physiology.
Seek counseling if you suspect your behavior adversely impacts your child. Watch for signs of anxiety and depression, such as changes in their eating habits or behavior. They may become withdrawn or refuse to do more than pick at dinner. Some begin to overeat to stuff down unpleasant emotions.
7. Your Spouse Could Start to Feel Unloved
While much discussion centers on how your mood impacts your children, your spouse could likewise feel the strain. If you withdraw into a shell when you feel anxious or depressed, they could misinterpret your actions as a lack of caring.
Try to make your partner your confidante. If you feel overwhelmed with responsibility, ask them for more help with household chores and child-rearing duties.
8. You Could Amp up Everyone’s Stress Levels
Did you know that observing someone under tremendous stress can amp up your cortisol levels and cause you to feel uneasy? Even your dog might catch your mood — you can guarantee your spouse and kids will.
Instead of shutting your family out when you feel overwhelmed, confide in them for support. While you want to keep discussions age-appropriate, you can do activities as a group that will lift everyone’s spirits while helping to relax.
Your Mood Impacts Your Family Life — Please Manage Your Emotions
Your mood significantly impacts your family, from how they eat to the way they manage challenging emotions. Please consider reaching out for help if you fear your behavior may have a negative influence.
About the Author
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer interested in mental wellbeing and healthy living. She is also the Editor-in-chief of Body+Mind.