Good Stress, Bad Stress. What Kind of Stress Do You Cause?

Hans Selye distinguished good stress (eustress) from bad stress (distress).

Sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference.

You may dream of a stress-free life, but such a life could be boring . . . or empty.

Being a parent has been one of the biggest adventures of my life but it has never been stress-free. Parents are charged with a tremendous responsibility – the physical and emotional well-being of a baby, a toddler, a growing child and eventually a maturing adolescent.

There are special challenges and rewards with each child and at every stage of their growth. And as a child grows, so do we.

We also become a stress – mostly positive but at times negative – in the lives of our children. We set boundaries for behaviour, and we set standards and goals. Without these, they may not internalize appropriate values and achieve their positive potential.

Our words – and how we deliver them – can be a source of stress. Our children need our feedback at every stage. That feedback can help them to continuously improve and grow.

Too often, poorly chosen words can cause distress. Unhelpful criticism – that which does not improve our performance and that which attacks rather than assists – arises through thoughtlessness or our own darker motivations.

We can get into a pattern of reflexively blurting out hurtful and harmful remarks that harms both our relationship and the children we have been charged to nurture.

We are all interconnected – dependent on one another in great and small ways. We can harm or help others in our actions and in our words – what we do and what we fail to do, what we say and how we say it.

In the workplace, at school, in the field and at home, what type of stress do you cause others? What is your effect – positive and negative – on your partner, children, employees, coworkers and others you influence in your daily life?

Being more mindful of this, what would you do differently?


About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in Awareness, Caregiving, Empathy, Growth, Parenting, Positive Change, Positive Potential, Relationships, stress management, Workplace Health and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Good Stress, Bad Stress. What Kind of Stress Do You Cause?

  1. mysterycoach says:

    You know, kids are rather impulsive. I’m sorry children ARE impulsive and there comes a point and time where no matter how often you repeat yourself they don’t listen. You can say the same thing, over and over again and they don’t listen. So you implement consequences or ground them … soon as that’s over, they pull something else, thereby testing their boundaries. I’m all for good communication and watching what we say to children. At the same time? When you’ve repeated yourself for the same things over and over and over… (to infinite and beyond) on various things at some point, something is going to come out of my mouth, that I don’t want to. I mean I’m a fan of controlling what I say and how I say it? At the same time… it’s like, why are they not hearing me? Why are they not following direction? Repeatedly… it’s very frustrating when you tell them something, they do the opposite time and time again on various levels.

    My friends and I used to talk and he was frustrated at his boys. I politely advised him that it was because he was repeating himself and after numerous years, saying the same things to greater or lesser degrees, it just frustrated him. He looked at me like I handed him a trophy or something, because it’s true. Kids will test the boundaries of anyone’s patience. And they do test… I’m not saying I disagree with you, I am saying that kids are being kids and the idea that they’re incapable of remembering certain things or following certain rules as they push these boundaries is … they can’t possibly not remember what we’ve said to them, over and over again.

  2. mysterycoach says:

    I “had” to come back before work … this morning after my initial response I thought about an incident that happened over the weekend w/my daughter. I lost my temper with her (it’s the stuck on the roof post) and she “would not” get down and was perched precariously on this garbage can … so I lost my temper out of fear and the very real fact that she was NOT getting down as instructed. I pictured broken bones etc., etc.,

    I did laundry this morning at a place down the street. On my return trip, I see this woman walking with two children both about 6/7 years old walking on the way down the street to school. As I get to my door, I hear “something F@$#@ing plah! COME ON!” Now, these two children as they passed me looked visibly upset and I thought, oooh someone had a bad morning. But, when I heard this woman, from up the block and I turned and saw this little boy “cringe” against the wall of a building … I thought of your post here. I thought, OMG… did you hear that… OMG look at this kid… I came in the house and I had (yet another discussion) with my daughter about following direction, listening to the guidelines I set, there are rules designed for her safety and the ONLY time I lost my temper is like this past saturday really… it’s like you’re looking out for their safety and they don’t listen, they forget consequences and I told her, you need to listen and respect what I say to you… I told her this story and I said, I love you I don’t want to be screaming in any capacity at you… she grinned. Why? Because she knows she tests and pushes limits that’s why… I told her it’s not funny.

    I am not a fan of losing my temper, I hate it … and there comes a point when they don’t listen, where sadly we may say something we don’t want to out of fear or them not listening or many other variables. Not in the abusive way that I’ve seen and heard, particularly like this morning…

    I just had to come back and tell you this story… it was SO relevant to everything you’re saying.

    • I notice that kids tend to tune out when they hear us say the same things in the same way repeatedly. It becomes background noise to them.
      It sometimes helps to try a different tact. We could try sending the message in a different way.
      My wife, a kindergarten teacher, found that when she spoke more softly than usual, the kids listened more closely and spoke more softly as well!

      • mysterycoach says:

        Mine’s 15 … tone, etc., doesn’t seem to work. I mean, she’s bascially a good kid but they’re impulsive and mine’s smart, she totally knows how long it takes me to calm down, how many days, weeks etc., and then of course, good behavior is over … Smart. Us humans are smart! They want to do what they want to do… I mean, seriously.

      • It’s funny that parents find their kids difficult to understand and motivate while kids seem to have figured out their parents. One of my patients who was raised by her single mom joked that she missed not having a father because it would have helped her to learn how to manipulate men. I think about this when I suspect that my daughter has me wrapped around her little finger.

      • MysteryCoach says:

        I had a long conversation a while back about manipulation on my blog and the person I was talking to said all human beings manipulate. There’s the good kind and then there’s the evil kind.

        Me thinks your patient may have things mixed up in her head, honesty is a good thing!

  3. mysterycoach says:

    p.s. I am, in no way, attempting to justify my own behavior… sometimes we lose it over very real things… I don’t find it acceptable either.

    • We as parents are all human, and we all lose our temper at some point. Kids have a practiced technique of wearing their parents down . . . until we give in or blow up!
      We have to act when our kids are in danger or putting themselves at risk.

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