It is known that in the immediate environment and/or caregiver, even the youngest child will sense stress. Stress has a clear impact on one’s mental well-being, with more and more studies showing that mentally healthy children are better able to meet the challenges of life. We become good teachers as well and have better relationships.
Many stress can be seen as optimistic, e.g. warning of imminent (potential) risk. It’s short-lived and played with slowly. Types include a new person being introduced and a meeting.
Some stress can have a more severe impact, usually because of more extreme and long-lasting issues. It may include serious illness and/or serious accidents with or without hospitalization, natural disaster, death or long-term isolation from a loved one. On a higher level, toxic stress arises “when a child suffers serious, recurrent and/or sustained trauma, such as emotional or physical abuse persistent abandonment, misuse of the caregiver drug or mental illness, social isolation, and/or cumulative pressures of family economic hardship”.
Any stress response results in increased levels of cortisol in the brain and the more extreme and persistent the stress, the more the brain’s elevated chemical levels continue to affect not only the brain as well as the body. These sustained high chemical levels can cause negative, even permanent changes in different systems in the body as well as the brain for a developing brain at an early age.
It’s part of growing up to learn how to deal with frustration, challenges, and suffering. While the learning process is underway, though, children rely on adult supportive interactions around them to balance the physical effects of stress. Therefore, important adult relatives, family members, early childhood teachers, domestic helpers, etc. should be aware of their own strategies to cope with stress as they need to use them to be that caring person that the child needs in a moment of crisis and can ultimately teach the child.
Clearly, understanding the stress levels in the life of a child and avoiding and alleviating the stress levels as quickly and effectively as possible is important.