Adults often complain they are “stressed out.” Increasingly, statistics show, American children are stressed out as well, and the effects on their health, emotional state, and cognitive ability can be significant.
It’s well-documented that adult stress can lead to serious illnesses. But many researchers believe that ongoing stress during childhood – from poverty, parents fighting or substance abuse, bullying, violence or other adversity – can harm kids’ brains and other body systems and possibly lead to major health issues when they’re adults. Therefore, it is vital for parents to help their children cope with stress.
Adults can handle more stress than children, because our brains are already formed and we have many more coping skills. Research shows there are lasting effects from stress on kids’ development. Not exposing your child to any stress at home, of course, is ideal, but in today’s world there is so much affecting kids that parents need to know how to help them through it.
Statistics cited in a greatschools.org article reflect the higher levels of stress that American children are experiencing: suicides among adolescents have quadrupled since the 1950s; and in the past decade, using pharmaceuticals to treat emotional disorders has increased 68 percent for girls, 30 percent for boys.
Four ways parents can help their children cope with stress:
Alise McGregor is the founder of Little Newtons (www.littlenewtons.com), an exceptional child care center focusing on early childhood education with four locations in Minnesota and one in Illinois. She is the author of an upcoming book, Creating Brilliance. Also a nurse, she has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology with a cardiac rehabilitation emphasis.