Are You Raising a Stress Resilient Child or a Stressed-out Child?
We live in a society where pretty much everyone is stressed out. Even our children seem to be stressed out! I mean come on children!? Really!? What do they have to be stressed about? Well my dear friend, stress can root from anywhere. Stress triggers can come from school, friends, the environment, food, and at home.
In our society we are constantly pressured as adults, if we are not always working, hustling and on the go we are not doing enough. We leave for work, traffic stresses us out; we fight with our boss or customer, BOOM stress trigger; we get home to cook dinner, clean, and look after kids, BOOM stressed out again! All of this is mirrored to children.
What Is a Mirror?
A mirror is exactly what it sounds like. Our behaviour, thought patterns, beliefs, fears and stress is reflected on to our children. Our children carry these along with them like baggage and take possession, as it is their own.
When it comes to stress, a little stress is okay. Stress can improve our immune function and our immune response, however if we are chronically stressed then the immune system no longer responds and begins to reduce optimal function. The way stress can impact us is based on our perception of stress, whether it is a positive or negative reaction.
Forms of Stress for Children
The environment we are exposed to on a daily basis, unless we live in the country- side, is pretty freaking toxic. Car fumes, pollution, herbicides/ pesticides are being sprayed, chemicals being released in the air and the biggest one (in my opinion) is electromagnetic frequencies.A note on electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs)…
EMFs come from Wi-Fi, microwaves, traveling on airplanes, high-powered blenders, fridges and stoves. Did you know all these have something in common? They emanate radiation. Electromagnetic frequencies heat up our body’s organs and tissues, lead to dangerous DNA alteration, and can open the blood brain barrier, which can cause damage to the brain and even allow insidious pathogens in. This seems quite scary if you think of us being constantly hit with EMFs. It is even scarier to think that if 5G is allowed in Canada, we are all in big trouble!
There can be a few different physical stressors a child can experience. Bullying, abuse, pathogens in the body, physical traumas like accidents, and broken bones. The most common physical stress a child can experience, in North America, are food allergens. If an underlying allergen, whether it be food, chemicals, food additivities, or environmental; if they are constantly being exposed or consuming it, it will cause issues in the body. For an example: cheese is the underlying allergen. When it is eaten, the nervous system says, “Hey, I think something is causing inflammation or damage to the body. We are being attacked!” The body puts up its metaphorical dukes and goes into attack or run mode (the flight or fight response).
With any physical stressors/ traumas, an emotional response is also triggered. Children who are exposed to fighting, especially in the home, will lead to emotional stress. Others to include here: divorce, neglect, and death of a loved-one or pet.
Stress Resiliency Techniques
It is as important as parents to show and teach our children how to be stressed resilient. Both children and adults need healthy ways to decompress after a long day or a stressful situation. Keep in mind, if you are not practicing stress resiliency then how can you expect to teach your children it?
Teach Them That It Is Okay to Ask for Help
Who doesn’t need a little help once in a while? And guess what? That is okay! Give children a list of friends, family, and people in the community who they can turn to for help. Children may not always turn to parents for help therefore it is great to have other resources to turn to.
Let Children Choose a Space Where They Can Go and Sit for Some Quiet Time
Quiet time or a quiet space allows children (and adults) some time to set the emotions of the day aside and chill out. It is also a great opportunity to look at situations from different perspectives. This is obviously a step for older children. Creating a space for little ones can be great to help them relax and breathe during an emotional storm (tantrums).
Deep Belly Breathing
Both older and younger children can practice this. Deep belly breathing will help turn off that fight or flight mode and put the body in a restful, calm state. Starting deep belly breathing at a young age allows children to quickly flick that stressful switch off during stressful situations. As they get older, they are able reach for this technique whenever they need.
If They Can, Verbalize How They Feel
When a child can verbalize how they feel, it is easy for them to understand their emotions.
Self Care Practices
Putting time into taking care of yourself truly goes a long way when it comes to managing stress. I think self-care is so important and should be done every day. Some self-care practices include hiking, walking, exercising, taking a bath, reading, journaling, singing, and dancing. Do what you love!
Journaling, Drawing, Colouring
Writing, drawing or colouring out emotions help children to put it on paper. It is almost like a cathartic practice being able to purge the emotions.