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What number of kids is the least stressful?

What’s The Least Stressful Kid Combination?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many people have brothers or sisters, but did you ever wonder if you had the right number? Would there have been less fighting if you had one, instead of the other? In other words, what’s the right recipe for a happy family?

A new survey asked the question and although the answers are very interesting — even surprising — one expert said there’s an even more important ingredient for family happiness.

Spend some time at the Edinborough indoor playground in Edina and you’ll see plenty of kids. And plenty of parents — even grandparents — to ask about a British survey that tried to identify the least stressful combination of children.

«Well, I would think the least stressful would be opposite sex and two,» said a grandmother.

«I think boys are easier,» said a mother.

«I think girls together would be the least stressful,» said another.

And that’s what the survey says — two girls rank first for true bliss.

The survey looked at 12 different combinations of siblings and the two girl combination being less stressful surprised parent coach surprised Lori Jo Kemper.

«Just that they have bigger mood swings and whinier moments, in general. And they’re a little more high maintenance,» said Kemper.

More than 2,000 parents ranked their own families and their own happiness. The two girl families scored highest for things like «easy to reason with,» «helped around the house,» and «liked each other.»

«I would have lost money on that one,» said Kemper. «I would have said it would have been two boys.»

In fact, two boys ranked third on the list:

2. One boy and one girl

7. Two girls and one boy

8. Two boys and one girl

9. Three boys and one girl

10. Three girls and one boy

11. Two boys and two girls

One trend is very clear: Larger families put themselves on the stressful end of the spectrum.

«It’s all of those responsibilities,» said Kemper. «Getting them to and from, feeding them, it just exponentially becomes more on the parents’ plate, so there is more stress.»

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Actually, all parents face their own sets of stresses and challenges, no matter how many children they have. Still, Kemper said the key to a low-stress family is low-stress parenting.

«If I had to isolate anything, it’s not gender, it’s anger that makes things more difficult,» she said.

And when it comes to kids, there are no magic potions.

«There isn’t a guarantee,» said Kemper. «But it’s more on being grateful for what you have and making the most of what you have at home. And I think most parents do.»

The study didn’t look at families with one child or more than four. But Kemper is so intrigued by the findings, she’s thinking about polling her clients.

First published on April 21, 2011 / 10:50 PM

© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Youth Mental Health During Pandemic Is Major Source of Stress for Parents

OAKLAND, Calif. (December 3, 2020) – For parents across the nation, the coronavirus pandemic and their children’s mental health are the two biggest causes of stress, and the vast majority of them are actively discussing mental health and well-being with their kids at least once a month, according to a new Blue Shield of California BlueSky survey released today.

BlueSky is the nonprofit health plan’s signature multi-year initiative to support youth mental health. The survey, conducted in October, asked U.S, parents to identify their top stressors in 2020 and what they consider their children’s top stressors. The study follows BlueSky’s first-ever mental health guide for students by students, published this summer with

Parents are most concerned about COVID-19 37% their child

Parents and youth agree on top stressors

In the new BlueSky Parenting & Mental Health Survey, parents identified three topics as most stressful to talk about with their children: COVID-19 (16 percent), their children’s mental health (11 percent), and family finances (10 percent). The results are consistent with findings from BlueSky’s August 2020 youth report, in which nearly 50,000 young people cited remote learning, uncertainty from COVID-19, and financial concerns as the most stressful issues they were coping with.

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“COVID-19 has upended lives, from the way people work and study, to their pastimes and social interactions,” said David Bond, LCSW, director of Behavioral Health for Blue Shield of California. “Mental health resources have never been more vital — and catching the warning signs never more critical — especially considering this prolonged period of isolation and uncertainty.”

Making a point to discuss mental health

One bright spot in 2020 is that parents are taking mental health very seriously – especially with older teenagers. The survey found that nearly three in four parents (73 percent) of 15- to 17-year-olds are discussing mental health together with their teenager at least once a month.

Other highlights of the BlueSky Parenting & Mental Health Survey include:

  • Four in 10 parents say they turn to family and friends as resources for learning about mental health and well-being of children during the pandemic.
  • Black parents are more than two times more stressed about discussing racial justice protests with their children than white parents (17 percent to 8 percent).
  • Three quarters of Hispanic parents are talking to their kids about mental health at least once a month – the highest percentage among all respondents.
  • Baby Boomers are most willing to discuss mental health amid COVID-19: 62 percent of parents 55 and older say they talk to their children about mental health and well-being at least a few times per month.
  • 14 percent of single parents say they are stressed about discussing family finances with their kids, compared with only 9 percent of two-parent families.
  • When feeling anxious or stressed, 50 percent of parents say they engage in general leisure/entertainment to relax (e.g., watching shows, listening to music).

“Families are navigating unchartered waters with each new season, especially now going into the holidays,” Bond said. “My advice is to be intentionally patient with one another. Parents need to take time to check in with themselves and with their children and ask them, ‘how can I help?’ And remember, if you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. Talking to each other more can help everyone understand top stressors and build strategies to overcome them.”

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“We created the BlueSky program because we understand that mental health is among the top health concerns for young people and the number one reason for hospitalizations,” said Antoinette Mayer, who leads Blue Shield’s Corporate Citizenship work. “Our program is designed to provide more resources and support to educators and students and to erase the stigma around seeking help.”

To see more survey results and find tips and resources for parents on starting mental health conversations and helping their children cope, visit

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a healthcare system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. Blue Shield of California is a tax paying, nonprofit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with over 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $20 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 in San Francisco and now headquartered in Oakland, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare healthcare service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.

For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit

For more on Blue Shield of California’s youth mental health BlueSky initiative, please visit

BlueSky Parenting & Mental Health Methodology

Blue Shield of California commissioned FINN Partners to conduct a survey online of a total of n=939 U.S. adults (18+) with at least one child under the age of 18. The results are weighted to be representative of all U.S. parents. The survey was fielded October 9-15, 2020. It was conducted using an online interview administered to members of the YouGov Plc panel of individuals who have agreed to take part in surveys. YouGov Plc makes every effort to provide representative information. All results are based on a sample and are therefore subject to statistical errors normally associated with sample-based information.

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Stress in childhood

Childhood stress can be present in any setting that requires the child to adapt or change. Stress may be caused by positive changes, such as starting a new activity, but it is most commonly linked with negative changes such as illness or death in the family.

You can help your child by learning to recognize the signs of stress and teaching your child healthy ways to deal with it.


Stress may be a response to a negative change in a child’s life. In small amounts, stress can be good. But, excessive stress can affect the way a child thinks, acts, and feels.

Children learn how to respond to stress as they grow and develop. Many stressful events that an adult can manage will cause stress in a child. As a result, even small changes can impact a child’s feelings of safety and security.

Pain, injury, illness, and other changes are stressors for children. Stressors may include:

  • Worrying about schoolwork or grades
  • Juggling responsibilities, such as school and work or sports
  • Problems with friends, bullying, or peer group pressures
  • Changing schools, moving, or dealing with housing problems or homelessness
  • Having negative thoughts about themselves
  • Going through body changes, in both boys and girls
  • Seeing parents go through a divorce or separation
  • Money problems in the family
  • Living in an unsafe home or neighborhood


Children may not recognize that they are stressed. New or worsening symptoms may lead parents to suspect an increased stress level is present.

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Decreased appetite, other changes in eating habits
  • Headache
  • New or recurrent bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Upset stomach or vague stomach pain
  • Other physical symptoms with no physical illness

Emotional or behavioral symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety, worry
  • Not able to relax
  • New or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers)
  • Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight
  • Anger, crying, whining
  • Not able to control emotions
  • Aggressive or stubborn behavior
  • Going back to behaviors present at a younger age
  • Doesn’t want to participate in family or school activities
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Parents can help children respond to stress in healthy ways. Following are some tips:

  • Provide a safe, secure, and dependable home.
  • Family routines can be comforting. Having a family dinner or movie night can help relieve or prevent stress.
  • Be a role model. The child looks to you as a model for healthy behavior. Do your best to keep your own stress under control and manage it in healthy ways.
  • Be careful about which television programs, books, and games that young children watch, read, and play. News broadcasts and violent shows or games can produce fears and anxiety.
  • Keep your child informed of anticipated changes such as in jobs or moving.
  • Spend calm, relaxed time with your children.
  • Learn to listen. Listen to your child without being critical or trying to solve the problem right away. Instead work with your child to help them understand and solve what is upsetting to them.
  • Build your child’s feelings of self-worth. Use encouragement and affection. Use rewards, not punishment. Try to involve your child in activities where they can succeed.
  • Allow the child opportunities to make choices and have some control in their life. The more your child feels they have control over a situation, the better their response to stress will be.
  • Encourage physical activity.
  • Recognize signs of unresolved stress in your child.
  • Seek help or advice from a health care provider, counselor, or therapist when signs of stress do not decrease or disappear.


Talk to your child’s provider if your child:

  • Is becoming withdrawn, more unhappy, or depressed
  • Is having problems in school or interacting with friends or family
  • Is unable to control their behavior or anger
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