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Tag Archives for " childhood stressors "

Aug 15

Kid’s Have Stress Too

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , Stress

Why Children Are More Stressed Than Ever And What You Can Do To Help

3-r-s-reading-writing-and-arithmeticChildhood has changed. Instead of pick-up baseball and basketball games on the corner lot, there are competitive travel leagues for kids as young as seven or eight. Instead of the three “R’s”; Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic,  kids are faced with standardized tests and after-school tutors. Instead of Sunday night with the Wide World of Disney, there’s questionable “family” shows such as the Family Guy, South Park, and the Simpsons. And then there’s technology!

Kids today are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before, partly because they’re being exposed to “mature” material before they’re able to process it, partly because the demands on their time are higher than ever, and partly because they don’t have time to decompress.

Here are five ways to help the kids in your life minimize and deal with stress.

Turn off the TV

Even when carefully monitored, TV can still cause kids stress. The bright colors, advertisements, and frenetic action are all designed to pull kids in, but they’re not designed to calm them down. (Some shows have even caused seizures in epileptic children). Turn off the assault on their senses. Sit with your children and discuss the day. Discuss what is going on in their lives. Listen to them!

Help kids identify and name their stress

Kids, especially younger ones, can have a hard time recognizing and labeling their stress. They may know they feel “bad” or uneasy, but may not know that what they’re feeling is stress or anxiety. Ask questions about what the bad emotions feel like (butterflies? angry tigers? a tummy ache?) and then help your child figure out when the feelings started.  Was it when the teacher handed out the math test ? When former best friend Keeshia sat with someone else at lunch? When everyone laughed at your book report? Identifying what children are feeling can help them sort out those feelings and instill the belief they have some control over the stress they’re experiencing.

Give kids choices

One of the biggest sources of stress for anyone of any age is feeling like they don’t have control over their lives, or the events in it. By giving your child a say in what’s happening to them, you help them feel more powerful. Let’s say your fourth-grader is freaking out about her math class. You can’t let her skip math, but you can give her options. Does she want to ask the teacher for extra help, or look into tutoring? Would she like Mom or Dad or an older neighbor to help her? Would she prefer to study in the morning or right after school? Even small choices help a child feel a sense of control over the outcome of a stressful situation.

Be a good listener

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just listen to your child, without offering advice or suggestions. Listening will allow your child to share some of the burden of their anxiety, which can help alleviate anyone’s stress. By paying attention to them, you can also gain insight into what the underlying sources of their stress may be.

Be there for your child

Just knowing that you are unquestionably available to your child can help him or her feel more secure and less stressed. After a tough day at school, to be able to come home and be surrounded by a loving, caring family can be the best stress-reliever of all. Take time to laugh and have fun, and create positive memories and events to counteract any negative occurrences in their life. It will help you relieve your own stress, too!

When we assume our kids are processing stress the same way we do, we are missing an opportunity.  We have the tools available to help ourselves through stressful situations because we’ve been around long enough to know what stress feels like and how to combat it.  Your child doesn’t have those tools.  It’s your job to observe, listen, and then help your child work through their feelings. Pass your knowledge on to your child and everyone wins.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer


Aug 12

Stressful Childhoods can Have Lasting Impacts

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , General

Did you know that childhood stress can affect your health later in life? And not in a positive way!

Stressful Childhoods Can Having Lasting Health ImpactsMuch research has shown that the turmoil of such dramatic events as abuse and divorce can have a lifelong impact on youngsters.  In fact, the impact of divorce can be so deleterious that many mental health professionals advocate staying together regardless of how bad the marriage is, if there are children involved.  Indeed, in our society we have a large percentage of “marriages of convenience,” where couples remain married long after the closeness has dissolved away.

Research on the impact of psychological stress on ones’ health as appeared  across the board for decades.  Psychological stress has been linked with increased risk for cardio-vascular disease, autoimmune disorders, infectious disease, and of course, mental illness.

When one is stressed, they turn on the fight or flight response, which prepares the body to overcome or to avoid danger.  Since this system was developed in us to turn on rarely, repeated activation of this system (because of the stressors we face each day) causes wear and tear on the body, eventually leading to illness.

We now know that children raised with harsh or cold parenting are at greater risk for heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and skeletal fractures in adulthood than children whose parents were warm and nurturing.

Moreover, we now know that as adults, people who had harsher parenting tend to develop more cortisol (the stress hormone) to normal stressors.  This impacts their sleep and health.

The key seems to be to make certain that you provide a warm and nurturing parenting environment for your children.  Although this is obvious to most, what wasn’t known was how dramatic and long term the health consequences would be for those who were raised under more harsh and cold parenting.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis