Is your behaviour causing your child to fall sick more often?

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Your parenting style may be the reason your child ends up missing school often.

A parent would do anything in her power to ensure that the child does not fall sick. However, what if your behaviour itself is causing sickness in the child?

Recent studies show that there is a link between the parents' behaviour and the child's health. And I am not just talking about his stress levels. It is actually possible that your behaviour towards your child is affecting his immunity.

Are you a strict parent? Then consider this study. 164 Children around the age of 11 were chosen for this study1. They received the usual dose of the meningococcal vaccine. It was observed that a negative parental behaviour, including strict behaviour, impacted the effect of the vaccine over the period of 6 months.

This is a major cause of concern as this poses a public health risk. But more importantly, it affects the way the child's immunity works. Stress is shown to be linked with changes in levels of Cortisol. This, in turn, reduces the child's immunity, causing him to fall sick more often.

Do you believe in free-range parenting? In another study2, 102 families were interviewed. The parenting styles were observed along with some biological markers in children. It was seen that poor parenting, including neglect, leads to an increase in inflammation and immune activation in children. This can potentially lead to organ damage in the long run.

What is the right style of parenting then?

While we do everything to ensure that our children get what we could not, we are undergoing a lot of stress. Is our parenting style right? I don't know. What I know is that we need to make sure that all these efforts do not end up affecting our children in any way.

One thing we know from these studies is that any type of extreme parenting is harmful. Try free-range parenting and your children might find themselves in situations where they do not know what to do. This would lead to stress, something you want to avoid. Be the tiger mums and dads, and you risk making them fall sick! It seems like finding a balance is essential.

So here is a 5 step mantra to ensure that you do not reach any extreme.

  1. Ensure that they are shielded optimally. Don't expose them to everything that you go through. Some of the children are really matured for their age. But that does not mean that they can think and function as adults. So keep the seriousness of life to yourself.Is your behaviour causing your child to fall sick more often?
  2. Don't remove their obstacles. When you start making things easy for them, you are making sure that they will need you whenever they are stuck. I don't think you want to do that. So don't make their path free of obstacles. Help them instead to navigate the obstacle.
  3. Create a sense of security. Let your child know that you are there for him. Be his friend and advisor when it comes to taking decisions. Let him try and fail, and understand that you are there for him. This will bring out the best in him.
  4. Give them optimal space. Every child needs some freedom and autonomy while growing. Ensure that your child is independent enough to do his daily chores. That also means not handing him the socks in the morning. But, to be honest, it would mean getting involved in any of his ventures only when he is sufficiently comfortable with it.
  5. Don't forget their age. Children are, after all, children. So don't try to rush them into something they are too young to enter. Granted, your child will ace his tests when you are a tiger parent. However, despite all the success, he will have life-long issues to deal with, something you do not want him to have. Let him be a child. He will do well in life. Just take it easy on this aspect!

Mums and dads, what do you think? So let us know in the comments below.


1: Observed Parent-Child Relationship Quality Predicts Antibody Response to Vaccination in Children. O'Connor TG et. al.

2: Self-Reported Parenting Style Is Associated With Children's Inflammation and Immune Activation.
Byrne ML et. al.

Also read: The Millennial’s Parenting Styles.

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Written by

Anay Bhalerao