Feeling snappy? You could be suffering from parental shock syndrome



Motherhood is one of the most challenging jobs you’ll ever do. It’s both exhilarating and exhausting, rewarding and relentless and at times, just plain overwhelming.

Most mothers would admit that sometimes, it’s hard not to snap at your children. Leading brain behaviour specialist Terri Bowman, founder of the Brain Wellness Spa in Perth, has warned that parents are becoming increasingly snappy at their children but can’t pinpoint the trigger for their outbursts. She calls it Parental Shock Syndrome. Here she talks us through this emerging condition and how we can all improve our brain health…


What is Parental Shock Syndrome?

Parental Shock Syndrome is an emerging condition and it’s simply the brain going into shock from the demands of a child, leading to the intolerance of trivial things as the brain is in survival mode. Parents today don’t smack their children yet they can’t help but scream at them which can be just as damaging as hitting them.


What impact does yelling have on a child?

Research shows yelling at least 25 times in a 12-month period can have a negative impact on a child’s self-esteem, increase the likelihood of depression and promote aggression in children.


So where does PSS begin and what triggers it?

PSS first happens when demands of a newborn become so extreme the mother’s brain goes into a shock, which is very different to stress. It is often the underlining cause of post-natal depression because a mother or even a father’s brain is intolerant to stress before the baby is born because the brain has already switched into survival mode of crisis. A child might simply talk incessantly and the parent snaps for no real apparent reason or something might fall onto the floor and there is an outburst by the adult that is way over the top. The brain goes into shock, which is no different to hearing tragic news because it can’t cope with an unexpected occurrence when the brain is already in survival mode. Brains fall into survival mode to cope with negative thinking.


So how do you stop the yelling?

If parents want to stop screaming at their children they need to get their brain out of survival mode and become more neutral to the triggers that cause them to respond the way they do. Brains are the most important part of our body yet most people don’t think to take action and make their brain healthy like they do to improve how they look by exercising and eating right.


How do you improve brain health and take it out of survival mode?

1. Sleep: The brain needs eight hours of good rest to recover and without it you wake up feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired, irritable, intolerant and for some, weepy.

2. Positive attitude: Having a positive mental attitude will help you to enjoy parenting much more than a negative attitude will. People that have a positive outlook on life seem to wave the storms much better than a negative outlook. Positive people have a healthier perception as well so if your child breaks a favourite dish you feel more willing to accept it and let it go. Positive people are happier and they embrace their challenges with optimism and let’s face it looking at the brighter side of life brings more love and joy into parenting.

3. Support: Being a mother is demanding so having a support network of people that you can rely on is important. A mother’s brain needs time to recover from the sleepless nights and the demands of parenting so having time to break away from your demands will help your brain to recover and feel less stressed.

4. Be happy: To raise happy children you must first be happy. We often see mothers and fathers who are emotionally distant with their children and this is because they are so stressed and unhappy. You need to incorporate a time every day that ignites your feeling of having a better mood. Most parents today struggle with their moods and emotions which impacts on the family and unsettles the children so if you want to cope better with the children you need to get your moods balanced and happier.

5. Switch off: You need to learn to switch off to stress and noise. The challenge we have is when our brain is in survival patterns of behaviour our sensory gets stressed and tense so a slight noise can trigger yelling and anger so having some down time can help those moments when you feel your cup is at a point of overflow. In today’s world where we are constantly connected and life is busy it is no surprise parental shock syndrome is becoming commonplace but switching off can help change that.

Visit www.brainwellnessspa.com.au  for more information | Image: Trish Lee


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