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Therapist: Personal stress can affect child’s development

(AP Stock Photo)

Whether you lost your job, are going through a divorce or everything just seems to be bad right now, family therapists said it is important for parents to think about the environment they are raising their child in.

Christina Jimenez with Doorways in Phoenix said a new report found parent’s stress during pregnancy or even in the early years of childhood can have tangible effects years later.

Having stress is like breathing, it’s kind of everywhere, she said. It really depends on how you let it manifest, or how you let it affect your well being.

“When I say stress people think something major like a loss (of a loved one), or a car accident or something of that nature,” she said. “But it’s not. It could be a move, it could be building your dream house, it could be changing your job.”

Jimenez recommended modeling how to properly handle stressful situations to your kids, no matter how stressful the situation is.

It is also important to take basic care of yourself, such as proper sleep, a balanced diet, drink lots of water, socialize, take medications and vitamins as prescribed and get physical exercise, she said.

There are a few signs you can look out for to see if your stress is affecting your kid.

“Obviously temperament, isolation, outbursts or anything that is not ordinary for your child,” Jimenez said. “The other thing is caretaking you.”

If you kid is asking if you are OK, or seeing how they can help you with your situation, that’s a huge sign, she said.  Another thing to look at is if your child is isolating or interjecting herself into the stress.

“A lot of these things parents are probably saying well my kid does that sometimes,” she said. “But if you’re stressed, or you recognize your stress and you’re seeing a different or change in behavior, you can probably say well there is probably something going on here.”

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