There are many factors that can cause parental stress. A few include financial, relationships, child temperament, work challenges and own past challenges.
Parental stress and child temperament is causal, however it can be argued if one causes the other. Studies have shown that children with challenging behaviours can cause maladaptive parenting strategies such as aggression or avoidance. On the other hand, parents can be stressed from factors outside of the child's control such as workplace issues which can cause maladaptive parenting styles, leading to challenging behaviours in the child.
Child temperament includes slow to warm up, fearfulness, effortful self-regulation and being difficult. These children are more likely to develop behaviour problems when exposed to stress in the family home compared to other children. The parent becomes irritable from stress, resulting in the child with poor self-regulation to become challenging. While a child who is able to self-regulate will soothe him or her self through self-talk, keeping one self occupied with something else such as playing and maintain good behaviour.
Therefore, it is important to consider child temperament and his or her environment to understand why challenging behaviours occur. Especially when one child misbehaves and the other doesn't in the same environment.
Researchers Li, Hestenes, and Wang (2016) studied make believe play (otherwise known as pretend play) in outdoor childcare settings as most studies investigated make believe play in indoor childcare settings. The study found that outdoor settings provided more opportunities for children to use their imagination in play.
Make believe play improves children's cognitive and social development, language development, creativity, impulse control, coping strategies, and emotion development. There was also positive relationship between make believe play and social competence but not with following rules.
There was no gender difference in outside make believe play, however other studies investigating indoors make believe play have found that boys tend to engage in concrete pretend play (using objects) while girls used abstract pretend play (transforming ideas). Outdoor play may promote gender equality because it offers more opportunities for different types of play in which girls and boys can effortlessly discover their roles.
This research has important implications in helping those who care for young children to understand the importance of make believe play, especially outdoors. This is an important message in an era where children area spending more hours playing online games than in outdoor activities.
Source: Li, J., Hestenes, L. L., & Wang, Y. C. (2016). Links between preschool children's social skills and observed pretend play in outdoor childcare environments. Journal of Early Childhood Education, 44, 61-68.
Information on latest research and strategies to improve mental health, trauma symptoms and trauma-informed care for children, young people and adults.