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Dad’s Bad Mood Can Seriously Affect Children’s Development, Study Finds

Dad’s Bad Mood Can Seriously Affect Children’s Development, Study Finds

“Whoever does not have a good father should procure one.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Hundreds of studies have solidified the fact that a father’s love is just as important to a child’s development as a mother’s, and sometimes more so…

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Research has proven emphatically that, overall, the love — or rejection — of mothers and fathers affects kids’ behavior, self-esteem, emotional stability, and mental health. According to Ronald P. Rohner, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut, in some cases, the withdrawal of a father’s love, acceptance and presence seems to play a bigger role in their children’s’ problems with personality and psychological adjustment, delinquency, and substance abuse. And of course the transverse is also true. The presence of a father’s love boosts children’s sense of well-being and improves their emotional and physical health. …But this is common knowledge. Most people are aware and do recognize the impacts a father has on his children.

Dad’s mental state directly affects his children

Scholars from Michigan State University (MSU) conducted a study and their findings not only underscore the importance of a father’s role in the lives of his children, but it went on to to prove that dad’s overall mental state and moods have short and long term, direct effects on his children.

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In the study, MSU researchers collected data from about 730 families that participated in a survey of Early Head Start programs at sites across the nation. The researchers focused their attention on discovering effects of parents’ stress and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety on their children. They found that parents stress levels and mental health issues affected how they interact with their children and, subsequently, their child’s development.

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Daddy and daughter

    One of the most surprising findings derived from this study is that a father’s mental health has long-lasting implications that directly correlate to differences in children’s social skills (such as self-control and cooperation) by the time children reached fifth grade. In fact, a father’s depression during the toddler years is more influential on the development of a child’s social skills later in life, than are a mother’s depression or anxiety.

    The study also highlighted the fact that a father’s parenting-related stress levels have a particularly harmful effect on his children’s cognitive and language development when the children are 2 to 3 years old—even in the presence of a mother’s’ positive influences.  As might be expected, the father’s’ influence appears to have a stronger effect on boys’ language than girls’ language.

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    These empirical, evidence-based findings are a poignant reminder that every father has a responsibility to take care of his own psychological well-being in order to nurture and foster the well-being of his children.

    One uplifting and positive thing that comes from this study is that we now have solid, scientific proof that dads do play as significant a role in raising children as mothers do, and that their piece of the family puzzle is crucial in helping a child learn and grow properly.

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    Changing dad’s mood

    Parenting is a daunting and stressful undertaking–no two ways about it. Especially for new parents. Below are some ways for dad to minimize the negative impacts his foul mood can have on his kids:

    • Accept the fact that you will feel stressed — Understanding and accepting that stress is a part of child rearing is key to helping reduce its impact on your mood. If you expect it and prepare for it–you can proactively minimize it’s effects on your mood and it can reduce the number of outwardly negative reactions you display.
    • Learn your triggers and work to de-stress as quickly as possible — Learning and becoming in tune with yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  Find out what situations, thoughts or moments cause you the most stress. Can they be avoided? What can you do to avoid or minimize these moments? Take some “dad time” and engage in activities that lower your stress levels–engage in a sport or hobby, take quiet time away, take a walk on the beach or engage in forest bathing.
    • Get help — If you are feeling overwhelmed or have a history of depression, anxiety or mental illness be sure to seek professional help. It is imperative for you and for your children. Consider the “airplane safety model.’ During the flight attendant’s safety speech, you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on first and then help those around you don theirs. The message here is that you can’t help others breathe if you are suffocating.

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    Published on May 21, 2021

    Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

    Bedtimes For Kids At Different Ages (Your Go-To Guide)

    Bedtimes for kids might be one of the most challenging parts of the day. Parents are tired and ready to relax, while kids of all ages seem to find extra energy and want nothing to do with sleep. One more story, one more trip to the bathroom, and one more question quickly make for a late-night, and no one gets the rest they need.

    If this happens often, you might start wondering if you and your child are getting the proper amount of sleep and how to make bedtime easier. Why is it so crucial for your child to get enough sleep? What does sleep deprivation look like? How do you improve bedtimes for kids?

    How Sleep Impacts Your Child’s Health

    Whether young or old, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy. There are many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep while not getting enough can have negative consequences. How does it impact your child?[1]

    • Brain Function – Sleep is linked to certain brain functions such as concentration, productivity, and cognition. These all impact a child’s behavior and academic success.
    • Weight – Sleep patterns affect the hormones responsible for appetite. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to regulate food intake, making overeating more likely.
    • Physical Performance – Sleep impacts a person’s physical abilities. Proper rest means better performance, concentration, energy, mental clarity, and faster speed.
    • Physical Health – There are many ways sleep promotes health. Sleep heals the body but also helps prevent disease and health issues. Getting proper rest will regulate blood pressure, help prevent heart disease, reduce chances of sleep apnea, reduce inflammation, boost immune system, and lower risk of weight gain.
    • Improve Mental Health – A lack of sleep has a negative impact on mood and social and emotional intelligence. A child not getting proper sleep is more likely to experience depression, lack empathy and be unaware of other people’s emotions and reactions.

    Sleep, Risky Behavior, and Teens

    Studies found that teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior when they are sleep-deprived. They’ll have problems regulating their mood, making them more short-tempered, aggressive, and impulsive. Their inability to self-regulate can even look like the symptoms of ADHD.[2]

    Sleep deprivation becomes hazardous when teens are driving. The impulsiveness and risk-taking, along with exhaustion, put them at a higher risk for accidents. In fact, driving tired is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content of .08.[3]

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    You can see why sleep is so essential to everyone’s health, but how much is needed? What do pediatricians recommend? Is it the same for all ages?

    Sleep Recommendations From Pediatricians

    Sleep requirements vary by age. It won’t be the same for every individual. Some people find that they need more sleep than others.

    Here is a basic guideline of what pediatricians now recommend:[4]

    • Ages 4-12 months: 12-16 hours (including naps)
    • Ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours (including naps)
    • Ages 3-5 years: 10-13 hours (including naps)
    • Age 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
    • Age 13-18 years: 8-10 hours

    Increase the amount of sleep if your child isn’t thriving on the recommended amount.

    Signs Your Child Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep

    There are ways to tell if your child is getting adequate sleep beyond the usual grumpiness. Here are specific things to watch out for:[5]

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    • Excessive sleepiness during the day
    • Difficulty waking up on time
    • Hyperactivity
    • Depression
    • Inattention
    • Mood swings
    • Aggressive behavior
    • Irritability
    • Impatience
    • Impulse control

    As you can see, prolonged lack of sleep can cause relational problems and hinder your child’s ability to do well in school. What can you do if you realize your child is not getting enough sleep? How can you improve bedtimes for your kids?

    How to Set Up a Bedtime Routine

    Sleep hygiene or a bedtime schedule will help your child fall asleep faster. It will also improve the quality of sleep. You will need to adjust to what works for your family, but the following suggestions can help everyone have a more pleasant bedtime.

    For Babies

    Most people think they have to let their baby “cry it out” at bedtime. However, there are ways you can teach a baby to sleep without tears, making the experience more pleasant for everyone. In fact, studies show the faded bedtime method—or gentle sleep training—is just as effective as leaving a baby to cry but without the stress.[6] What is gentle sleep training?

    Gentle Sleep Training

    This method eases babies and young children into falling asleep on their own. There are two ways to do this:

    1. Positive Routines With Faded Bedtime

    Kids learn to fall asleep easily by using comforting, quiet, and predictable rituals, up to twenty minutes long. The key is to choose a bedtime that’s not too early. A child that isn’t tired will only fight sleep.

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    Start the process when your baby or child is sleepy, even if it’s later than you’d prefer. You’ll notice a pattern and quickly discover the time they naturally start winding down. Make this their bedtime for now. They will learn to associate sleep with the routine, and you’ll be able to start fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to slowly adjust their schedule.

    2. Sleep With Parental Presence

    With this method, you lie down with your baby or child until they fall asleep. Over time, you pay less attention to your child, gradually sitting up, then sitting in a chair. Eventually, your child will be able to sleep without you. A study showed that using this method helped infants sleep longer and wake up less.[7]

    Both of these ways take time but are effective and less traumatic than leaving an infant or young child to cry.

    More Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better

    You want to build a routine, but how? What are practical things you can do to help your baby get ready for bed?

    Here are tips for a soothing and calm bedtime:[8]

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    • Help set their “internal clock” by exposing them to natural daylight, daytime activities, and the calmness of evening.
    • Block blue light exposure.
    • Make the hour up to bedtime calm, peaceful, and pleasant.
    • Learn how to keep stress minimal for you and your baby.
    • Don’t force sleep. It will increase anxiety and make rest more difficult.
    • Avoid late afternoon naps
    • Prolong the time between nap and bedtime.
    • Feed baby right before bed.
    • Avoid intervening too soon if the baby starts to wake up. Give your child a chance to fall back asleep without your help.

    For Elementary-Aged Children

    It’s easier to follow a routine if you start young, but it’s never too late to begin. The good news is it only takes a few nights to notice an improvement in your child’s sleep.

    These ideas will help you set up a schedule that will encourage your child to fall asleep easier, faster, and for a more extended period.[9]

    • Offer them a nutritious snack.
    • Bathe them.
    • Brush their teeth and go to the bathroom.
    • Read them a story.
    • Sing them a song.
    • Cuddle or massage them.
    • Talk about the day.

    For best results, choose a handful of activities and do them in the same order each night. Dim the lights and keep activity minimal to help everyone slow down.

    For Teens

    They might fight the idea of getting more sleep, but teens will benefit from a routine, too. They’re usually capable of overseeing their bedtime, but a little structure and oversight can help them get the sleep they need. By implementing the following tips, your teen can get better rest.[10]

    • Avoid caffeine in the evening.
    • Limit screen time.
    • Avoid late-night binging.
    • Exercise, ideally sixty minutes a day.
    • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet.
    • Talk through problems.

    Quality Sleep for a Healthy Life

    Bedtimes for kids can be an enjoyable part of the day with proper sleep hygiene in place. Not only can it be quality time with your child, but it can also set them on the road to good health and high performance. By implementing these tips, you can ensure proper rest for the whole family and better bedtimes for kids.

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    Featured photo credit: Igordoon Primus via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Medical News Today: Why Sleep Is Essential For Health
    [2] Child Mind Institute: Teens And Sleep: The Cost Of Sleep Deprivation
    [3] Depart of Health: Drowsy Driving Prevention, Teens Ages 16 To 19
    [4] AAP publications: AAP Endorses New Recommendations On Sleep Times
    [5] Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership: Sleep Deprivation In Children A Growing Public Health Concern
    [6] Parenting Science: Gentle Infant Sleep Training
    [7] BetterHealth: Solutions to sleep concerns (11) – babies 6 to 12 months
    [8] Parenting Science: 15 Evidence-Based Baby Sleep Tips
    [9] Sleep Foundation: Bedtime Routines For Children
    [10] NHS: Sleep Tips For Teenagers

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