Stress In Children


Stress is defined as an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures. One of the most powerful determinants of children’s developmental course is the social context in which they live. In particular, experiencing a supportive environment during childhood is likely to foster healthy cognitive, social, and emotional development. Stress may then interfere with some of the major tasks of childhood, such as academic achievement and fulfillment of educational goals.

When you notice stress in a child, one of the best things to do is talk to them about it. Let them know that everyone experiences stress in their life, but there are things that can be done to avoid it. One major cause of stress in children is an overwhelming schedule. Many children today have schedules that would wear out any adult. They have many extracurricular activities such as sports, music lessons, and dance lessons. They also have homework each night, probably more than you had as a child. If you add in any household chores to that, it is enough to cause stress in any child, no matter how well adjusted they are. Take a step back and see how much they are doing and what if anything can at least be temporarily taken away to give them more time.

Talk to them about what is important and how some things may have to wait until they have a less busy schedule.

For example, if your child is taking piano lessons, but is stressed out about it because they are not practicing like they should and performing poorly, try to find out the source of the problem. Do they just not enjoy taking lessons? Or are they so overwhelmed with schoolwork that they do not have time to practice? If homework is overwhelming them, you may want to talk to their teacher. Perhaps they have a learning disability or need a tutor to get extra attention. Perhaps they just need to make better use of their time. Set up a schedule for them that includes both time to do homework as well as time to practice piano if they want to continue the lessons. If needed, ask them if they want to discontinue the piano lessons for a while so they can be caught up on schoolwork.

Sometimes, children just do not want to talk to you about their problems – big or small. If your child does not want to talk to you about what is stressing them out, buy them a journal. It can help them release pressure, but also help them think things through to work out potential solutions to problems they are having.

Good Stress and Bad Stress

The stress response (also called the fight or flight response) is critical during emergency situations, such as when a driver has to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. It can also be activated in a milder form at a time when the pressure’s on but there’s no actual danger – like stepping up to take the foul shot that could win the game, getting ready to go to a big dance, or sitting down for a final exam. A little of this stress (good stress) can help keep you be ready to rise to a challenge.

But stress doesn’t always happen in response to things that are immediate or that are over quickly. Ongoing or long-term events, like coping with a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can cause stress too. The nervous system senses continued pressure and may remain slightly activated and continue to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period. This can wear out the body’s reserves, leave a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed and weaken the body’s immune system.

CAUSES

At school

  • Being away from home(ages5-7)
  • Fear of punishment from teacher
  • Worry about getting along with peers
  • Worry about school work
  • Fear of being chosen last on team  

OTHER FACTORS

  • Divorce of parents
  • Moving to new town or city
  • Serious illness

• Stress is created by parental pressure to perform and to stand out among other children. When they can’t rise up to that expectation, or during the process of meeting it, children may suffer from frustration, physical stress, aggression, undesirable complexes, and depression. 

• Students who are under-performers, develop negative traits such as shyness, unfriendliness, jealousy, and may retreat into their own world to become loners.

• Over scheduling a student’s life can put them under stress. A child’s in school and after school activities should be carefully arranged to give them some breathing space. Parents may want them to learn music, painting, or be outstanding in a particular sport. So many things are crammed in to their schedule, unmindful (often) of the children’s choices and capabilities that it puts a lot of mental pressure on them in an effort to fulfill their parents’ wishes.
 

• School systems cram students with a tremendous amount of homework, which they usually have to complete spending their evenings, weekends and most of the vacations. Unable to find enough time of their own, students often lose interest in studies and under perform. They often feel stress by being asked to do too much in too little a time.

•Teenage depression or growing up tensions add to the academic pressures. If unable to adapt to the transition and change, students often carry enormous amount of anxiety, negative personal traits and can suffer from massive attention problems.

It is important to keep a track of how much your kids can take before the pressure gets to them. Making sure they achieve their potential shouldn’t come in the way of leading a good, healthy life.

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School Blues: Is It Normal?


We all at some points hated school and made various excuses to bunk it. This is commonly known as School Jitters. Although most people going to school at some points in their lives do experience these jitters, however, children now-a-days may experience something more than just jitters. School refusal should not be taken simply as an excuse to not study or to sleep more, there is more to it. Thus, it is important for us as parents/adults to identify the various symptoms and thereby take suitable actions.

A child experiencing more than just “school jitters” usually refuses to go to school on a regular basis, or has problems staying in school once there. This should not be confused with truant children who avoid school because of antisocial behavior or delinquency.

School refusal is often a symptom of a deeper problem and if not treated can have a negative impact on socialization skills, self-confidence, coping skills and, of course, education. Anxiety-based school refusal affects 2-5% of school-age children. It is common at times of transition, for example, graduating from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school. Anxieties tend to differ among age groups, but the most common stressors are:

  • separation anxiety
  • concerns about academic performance
  • anxieties about making friends
  • fear of a teacher or bully

The most common ages for school refusal are between five and six, and between ten and eleven. Children who suffer from school refusal tend to be average, or above average in intelligence.

Other common fears in school may be due to:

  • Being separated from caregivers;
  • Riding on the bus;
  • Eating in the cafeteria;
  • Using the school bathroom
  • Interacting with other children or teachers.

Their stress may come out in the form of physical symptoms, such as:

  • headaches
  • stomachaches
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

In addition to physical symptoms, there can be behavioral symptoms, which can manifest as:

  • tantrums
  • inflexibility
  • separation anxiety
  • avoidance

Older children not only experience the stress that goes along with transition from one school to the next, but there is added academic pressure in the higher grades as students begin to see their futures unfolding before them. These stresses may manifest themselves in an extreme preoccupation with appearance, sleeplessness, or rebellion. As with younger children, it is important to keep the child in school, although they may fight it. Missing school reinforces anxiety, rather than alleviating it.

How To Keep My Umbilical Cord Intact With My Child?


Amidst changing cultural values, lifestyle, language and people, unchanged are the parent–child relationship. In fact psychologists reveal that the parent – child relationship is a blueprint for all the relationships that a person builds during his lifetime.

Healthy attachment between parent and child is a critical component in the development of brain functioning. In a healthy cycle of development, new-borns develop a positive understanding of the world – a belief that they are worthy and adults can be trusted to care for them – through their expression of needs. When the baby cries to express a need, the parent responds to that need, and the baby is satisfied. This cycle is the foundation of trust. If this pattern, however, fails or never materializes, the child’s development could be negatively impacted.

Research has shown that children who have formed a close bond with their mothers are sociable and gregarious. Those children lacking a secure bond are more likely to be antisocial, withdrawn, hostile and aggressive.

Children who have a deep bonding with their mothers/parents become very independent at a young age. This bond also boosts their self-esteem. These children are also more successful in school. Bonding creates within the child a sense of confidence and a positive attitude. This influences future relationships and achievement.

Bonding develops through interaction. Breastfeeding, reading to the child or any activity where the mother spends one-on-one quality time with the child turns into a bonding experience. Horseplay, heart-to-heart talks and just listening intently to what a child has to say can create a strong bond that will last forever.

Research has found that society needs to find ways to ensure that mothers can stay at home with their children. This usually, though not always, ensures high quality care and a firm bonding process.

Trends of today however make it almost impossible for mothers to stay at home and care for their children. An increasing number of women are pursuing independent careers today; this leaves them with less time and energy for the kids and family. Also as the nuclear family system becomes more and more prevalent, the role of the primary care giver is being taken up by day care providers rather than mothers or grandparents.

In this scenario, new and creative ways of promoting quality interaction between the mother and child have to be devised

Activities that can promote both learning and bonding are likely to be more effective.

One such activity can be gardening.

  • It allows parents to spend some quality time with their children
  • Planting a small patch outside one’s house together can indeed be an enriching experience.
  • Also, time is spent constructively in doing some fruitful work rather than useless activities like watching television.
  • Gardening is also a great way to teach environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature.
  • The physical activity involved in gardening boosts a child’s fitness levels.
  • Building garden tools together can become a great parenting activity.

Children are natural gardeners. They’re curious, like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt.                                                                                           

  • Gardening satisfies children’s curiosity levels.
  • Gardening becomes a great way to stimulate a child’s overall development.
  • Gardening promotes motor skills to emotional bonding; gardening can become a huge learning opportunity.

Children delight in the unexpected and a garden can be full of new and surprising experiences. Brightly-coloured flowers and fruits can also become interesting teaching aids for learning colours shape and numbers.

Sharing such out-of -book learning experience deepens the bond between the mother and child since the child begins to see the mother as a partner in his explorations and adventures.

Working in a garden, a mother and child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time together. This goes a long way in instilling the values of patience and perseverance in a child. There can be nothing better to see a plant grow together with your child.

Thus, bonding with the child, especially in his/her formative years lays the groundwork for all their future relationships and general outlook towards life.

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