Deciphering children's signals in parental burnout. Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir: "Children communicate, but parents don't realize it and enter into conflict"

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Deciphering children's signals in parental burnout. Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir: "Children communicate, but parents don't realize it and enter into conflict" / PHOTO: freepik.com @The Yuri Arcurs Collection
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Deciphering children's signals in parental burnout. Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir: "Children communicate, but parents don't realize it and enter into conflict" / PHOTO: freepik.com @The Yuri Arcurs Collection

Parental burnout is an increasingly common reality in many families' lives, and children, even if they don't fully understand the concept, are extremely sensitive to their parents' emotional states. Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir explained in 'Present Parents' the subtle yet profound ways children react to the stress and tension felt by their parents, even when parents try to hide it.



"Yes, typically children send signals, but differently than adults. What children usually do is mirror – if the parent is agitated and discontented but doesn't talk about it, cannot express it, and hides it from the child so as not to disturb or set a bad example.

They say 'I am in a period more like this... but it's me I am fine, actually.' And, then, they send a mixed message that the child receives but understands that one mustn't speak very much about this and takes my condition and one expresses it somehow".

Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir shows us how difficult it can be for parents to recognize the signals their children are sending, especially when they are overwhelmed by fatigue and stress.

"It's delicate, indeed, to be able to understand, especially when you are in distress. When we talk about parents with burnout, we're talking about absolutely exhausted parents. They don't even realize it and they're on that drive to keep going, feeling guilty if they don't", says the expert.

In this state of exhaustion, parents often lose the ability to interpret their child's behavior correctly. "How can they realize that the child's irritability is a signal? They don't have the calmness and availability because they are so stressed and disconnected from themselves", adds the psychologist.

Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir: 'To be able to understand would mean, first of all, being able to see myself!'

Often, parents don't even realize when they are experiencing burnout. They feel stress and fatigue, but attribute it to a 'stressful period' or 'temporary fatigue.' Burnout, however, sets in gradually and insidiously, consuming the parents' energy and emotional resources until they are completely drained.

'I feel stressed, but I tell myself 'I'm going through a stressful period' or 'I'm tired.' We often hear or see this, as not everyone acknowledges it. But from here to burnout, there are more steps; it slowly consumes. It's not explosive to be very evident. And to be able to understand would mean, first of all, being able to see myself! And if I'm not very well connected to myself, to realize what's happening in my soul, what's happening with my energy level, what's happening with my balance, then how can I see the child who's doing something?

I might just take it as a challenge. 'He wants to challenge me, wants to punish me, doesn't want to do what I want him to do.' And then I get into a conflictual relationship with the child because it doesn't turn out as I thought. I believe he should do many things and prove himself,' Ana Maria Zamfir further explains.

Ana Maria Zamfir: 'It's a big problem with what we aim for from the start!'

Raising children comes with enormous expectations and pressures, and parents are often caught in a conflict between their desires and the real needs of their children. Psychologist Ana Maria Zamfir emphasizes that this issue starts right from the initial motivations for deciding to have children.

'I think it's a big problem with what we aim for from the start, what we want when we have children. Why do I have a child? Do I have them so I can raise a being who will be extraordinary, let them do what they want, but use their maximum potential?

And here comes a conflict. The child won't want to use their maximum potential in the way we want them to or in the way we, with the minds of experienced adults who have been through a lot, consider.

The tendency is clearly to exaggerate. This is what I see and what I have experienced firsthand. I sometimes tend to exaggerate. I noticed there could have been dangers at one point, but they didn't happen.

Could there have been something and then what do I do? I have to protect them at all costs. I protect them from something: if they don't succeed at school if they don't get a perfect score, if they don't get eight or above. What will happen? And then we break the child. Often this happens, children are broken', added Ana Maria Zamfir.

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Autorul articolului: Loredana Iriciuc | Categorie: English





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