Earthquakes aside, the topic here is stress, and it can come in many forms, leaving a lasting, negative imprint on children’s early development. Indeed, there is a body of research that shows just how important it is to provide a calm and loving environment in order to help insure children’s emotional and social well-being, and surprisingly, children’s CAPACITY TO LEARN. Here’s how it works...
THE SCIENCE OF STRESS
Scientists studying stress have shown that when a human being feels threatened – physically or emotionally – a chain reaction of chemicals is released in the brain and sent coursing through the body. In doing this, the brain is fulfilling it’s first, primary function – survival.
You see, stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol are the body’s physiological alarm bell signaling danger. And it doesn’t matter whether that danger is defined as an earthquake, a public speaking engagement, a bad report card, or a boo-boo. The body responds physiologically pretty much the same way every time.
So here’s what happens. When these hormones are triggered, the brain goes into a primitive state known as “fight or flight,” pouring nearly all of its energy back down into the brain stem – the area that controls automated functions such as breathing and heart rate. At the same time, the senses are heightened and blood rushes into the muscles (which feels like shivering) in readiness to “fight” or “flee” the danger.
As your child grows and is better able to communicate, she may now be entering a time when she can begin to explore the power to calm herself in times of stress – an essential step on the road to developing independence and self-confidence. Experts call this self-calming.