RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENTAL STRESS AND CHILDREN TEMPERAMENT 

A child’s activity level was correlated with the level of stress a mother experiences. Parents can describe their children as having distinct and recognisable patterns of behaviour as young as in infancy. Even at birth, some children are much more challenging to parents while other children are notably more easygoing and carefree. Since parenting involves the relationship between a child’s  temperament(personality style) and the parent’s response, the relationship is a reciprocal process in which parent and child are constantly affecting each other. It was hypothesised that child activity level would correlate positively with the level of stress a mother experiences. When mothers rated the activity level of their most active pre-kindergarten aged child, results revealed that the percentile of mother stress was positively correlated with child activity at a statistically significant level. 

There is no doubt that parenting is a job that requires patience, flexibility and determination. But are some children more difficult to parent? Researchers have long been aware of the potential influences of child behaviour on parenting. It is found that compared with mothers of compliant children, mothers of children with externalising behaviour problems reported more negative feelings about parenting. Current research examining the relationship between child characteristics and parental behaviours. It is focuses on the extreme side of child temperament such as children who have exceptionalities like Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder or other neuropsychological disorders. Most notably, research has given much attention to the construct of the difficult temperament defined as irregular rhythm, negative withdrawal response to new stimuli, no or slow adaptation to change and intense moods often negative.

Temperament has been implicated as having both direct and interactive effects on parent-child relationships. Research has shown difficult temperament to be related to less positive maternal behaviours such as lower maternal responsiveness, less teaching effort and higher parent stress. Additionally, It is found that child temperament predicted higher parent stress at 4 and 12 months for all fathers.

In a model of parenting stress, analogous to model of the determinants of parenting, researcher proposed that child characteristics, such as temperament, have an influence on parent-child interactive stress. In support of this notion, It is found that mothers of temperamentally difficult children, ages 1 to 36 months, reported higher levels of parenting stress. Current research supports the notion that difficult temperament in children is related to higher levels of stress in their parents.

Parent stress can be caused by a number of factors, including a shift in the focus of the relationship with the arrival of a new baby, lack of sleep, monetary concerns and daily issues relative to raising a child. Along with the challenges of becoming a parent, a child’s personality may also contribute to their parent’s level of stress. Research suggests that a child’s personality can impact the level of stress that a parent experiences. Though there are many components that make up a child’s temperament and personality, the area focused on was the child’s activity level.

Parents can often identify the personality of their child as young as a newborn. Even babies can be described as having different characteristics such as being easy- going, active or shy. Activity level, which describes individual differences in the general energy level and frequency of movement in children, has received research attention in terms of its potential influence on parent-child relationships. High activity level, like difficult temperament, has also been linked to less positive mother- child relationships. Researcher noted that parents who experienced more total stress reported that their children exhibited more externalizing behaviour problems. There is evidence to suggest that children on the extreme high end of the activity dimension may increase parenting stress for mothers.

In contrast to the findings discussed so far, additional literature suggests that parents who access outside support systems, such as Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes, report a lower level of stress. For example, Researchers found that low social support related directly to more parent stress. It is found that social support predicts parent stress much better than other factors related to child functioning. Additionally, Researcher found social support to be most important in predicting the stress level in mothers with two-year old children. Because of the implications of social support as it relates to parent stress level, the study has controlled for this outside influence by identifying parents who attend ECFE classes.While it has been repeatedly analyse that parents of children with exceptionalities experience more stress than parents of children without disabilities. Do parents of more highly active children experience more stress than parents of less active children? It is anticipated that the mothers of more highly active children would report higher levels of stress.

Some children are viewed as being easier to parent based on their temperament. It has been shown that specific aspects of parent stress and infant temperament are associated over time. It was hypothesized that there would be a relationship between high child activity and high levels of mother stress. It is hoped that this article will help mothers get a clearer picture of their own levels of stress and identify areas in which conflicts with their child arise due to their child’s activity level. When there is friction between parent and child, it is more reasonable to expect that the parent will adapt to their child’s needs. When a parent understands their child’s activity level, he or she can organise the environment so that “goodness of fit” is more likely to happen. The research on temperament consistently states that a child’s temperament is mostly inborn and not something caused by “good” or “bad” parenting. When parents understand their child’s activity level, they can learn to adjust with it. By understanding the reciprocal nature of this relationship and adjusting accordingly, problems may be prevented and stress may be reduced. On the reserch, it is hypothesized that child activity level and mother stress will be highly correlated. It is hypothesized that the mothers of highly active children who received support on a weekly basis will have a significantly different (lower) stress level compared to mothers of highly active children who did not receive support. It is hypothesized that families with a higher level of income, fewer children and in a married relationship will experience a lower level of stress than their opposite counterparts.

The results of the present study have suggested that there is a relationship between the stress a mother experiences and child activity level. Other research supports that highly active children may increase parenting stress level for mothers resulting in a less positive parent-child relationship. These results may help mothers identify the contributing factors to their stress level. When a parent understands their child’s activity level, they can adjust their parenting style and in turn reduce their level of stress. On the research it is seemed to indicate that mothers who were experiencing a higher level of stress sought out support through structured Early Childhood Family Education(ECFE) parenting classes. 

Moreover, Reserch provide evidence that high levels of child activity are associated with higher levels of stress in mothers. Therefore, early identification of child temperament along with appropriate intervention and education are important in fostering a quality, fulfilling relationship between highly active children and their mothers.

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