Parenting Stress, Home Chaos and Children's Health

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Feeling stressed out? Ever wonder what impact that stress might have on your health or the health of your children? 

Among young kids, parents are the major influence in the development of behaviours, including health behaviours such as eating habits and physical activity. Research has shown that parents influence their children’s obesity risk through feeding behaviours and modelling of weight-related behaviours. However, little is known about how factors in the general home environment may influence children’ s weight. With many Canadian children consuming poor diets and not meeting the guidelines for healthy diets, screen time or physical activity, perhaps it is time to take a step back. Before focusing on guidelines, it may be important to examine the home environment and family well-being.

In my research, I focus on supporting parents to role model and promote healthy behaviours among their kids. As part of this, I always think it is important to focus on the well-being of the parents. This includes thinking about parent stress levels, the level of chaos in the home and how families communicate. Parenting can be stressful, full stop. Instead of focusing on making sure kids are meeting the guidelines for veggie intake, I think we need to make sure home environments are supportive to eating veggies in the first place. This includes making sure parents are feeling supported and not overwhelmed – we don't want healthy behaviours to add more stress! 

I had a wonderful opportunity this week to share my research in a webinar for the Ontario Public Health Association's Nutrition Resource Centre. 

Check it out here, if you are interested! 

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below. How do you think we can help families create healthier home environments? We love hearing from you! 

xo Kath