Making After School Time Their Time ~ Reducing kids’ stress developed by VA Child Care Resource & Referral Network 2008
Discussions for today • Kids and stress • Activity vs. downtime • Recommendations, activities & resources
What is stress? • a specific response by the body to a stimulus, such as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism. • Hans Selye defined it as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change". • The body’s response to stimulus.
Types of stress • Eustress: “good” stress excitement – healthy competitiveness – challenges - energetic • Distress: “harmful” stress overwhelming – pressure – hurt – rushed – tired – fear
Types of stress • Positive • Tolerable • Toxic
The stress response Stress triggers the fight or flight response, which alters the body’s normal chemistry, causing: Rush of blood from the skin and digestive organs to the muscles ~ increased heart rate, blood pressure Increase in ‘energy hormones’ (glucagon and cortisol) to provide fuel to the body ~ “adrenalin-rush” The stress response helps the body prepare to fight or run!
Effects across the lifespan Early Childhood • Impairs the connection of brain circuits, resulting in the development of a smaller brain • Disruption of developing brain circuits can cause child to develop low threshold for stress – overreactivity
Effects across the lifespan Early Childhood • High levels of stress hormones (cortisol) can suppress the body’s immune response • Cortisol can damage the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. These cognitive deficits can continue into adulthood
Effects across the lifespan Into Adulthood The ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Adolescence risky behaviors such as pregnancy, suicide attempts, early initiation of smoking, sexual activity and drug use. Adulthood risk of substance abuse, depression, unintended pregnancy, risk of violence, STDs, heart diseases, liver disease, suicide attempts
Nervousness Irritability Anxiety Depression Forgetfulness Comprehension problems Hypersensitivity Overreaction Tension Chronic pain Bad diet Weight changes Hair loss Skin problems Immune response Addiction Effects across the lifespan
homework grades teachers parents siblings social relationships peer pressure self image extracurriculars health learning tests moving starting school change in routine disorganization …… So… what do KIDS have to be stressed about?
What kids say about stress What causes you the most stress? 36% Grades, school and homework 32% Family 21% Friends, peers, gossip and teasing KidsHealth Kidspoll ~ 2008 875 nine to 13yr old boys and girls nationwide
What kids say about stress Mt. Sinai School of Medicine NY ~ 1999 724 kids ages nine to 12 31% “worried a lot” 47% had insomnia Am. Academy Pediatrics ~ 2000 19% of kids visiting pediatricians had psychological problems related to their social environment, triple the percentage from 2 decades earlier!
What kids say about stress How do you cope with your stress? 52% play or do something active 44% listen to music 42% watch TV or play a video game 30% talk to a friend 29% try not to think about it
What kids say about stress How do you cope with your stress? 28% try to work things out 26% eat something 23% lose their temper 22% talk to a parent 11% cry
What kids say about stress How do you cope with your stress? About 25% kids polled said when they are upset, they take it out on themselves, either by banging their heads against something, hitting or biting themselves, or doing something else to hurt themselves.
Recognizing stress in children • Physical symptoms ~ headache, stomachache, nausea, chronic fatigue, appetite changes, bad dreams, grinding teeth, stuttering, frequent illness • Behavior regression ~ bedwetting, clinginess, crying, personality changes, forgetfulness, overreaction, lying / excuses, withdrawal
Recognizing stress in children Stress can Manifest itself Physically Emotionally Academically Socially
! Fight Time ! Benefits of Activitiesvs.The Risks of Overscheduling
Benefits of Activities • Academic performance • Improved self-esteem • Fewer behavior problems • Lower risk of depression, drug use, risky behavior
Risks of Overscheduling Academic problems Curbed creativity No down-time Stunted social development STRESS !
Nothing Time “Middle-class children in America are so overscheduled that they have almost no ‘nothing time.’ They have no time to call on their own resources and be creative. Creativity is making something out of nothing, and it takes time for that to happen.” -Diane Ehrensaft, PhD. – Psychology Today Magazine, 2003
Nothing Time • Children need time to read, write, think, dream, draw, build, create, fantasize and explore special interests. • Unstructured play allows them to pursue their interests, express their personalities and learn how to structure their own time.
Warning Signs Young children: Irritability Avoiding eye contact Tantrums Older children: Mood swings Recurrent sickness Complaints about activities
Helping Kids/Families Cope • Homework time, tutoring • Providing outlets for stress • Providing outlets for creativity • Educating parents • Educating children
Creating a Stress-Free Environment • Build relationships • Plan around them • Let them plan • Provide opportunities • Get physical! • Model effective coping skills
Ideas • Go outside! • Physical activity - breathe, stretch, walk • Journaling • Music – THEIR music! • Dance • Strategic games – cards, rubik’s cube, slinky, punch balls, puzzles • A place to do nothing
Resources • http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/famsci/fs559.pdf • stress booklet • http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/PDF/CHFD-E-19-03.pdf • stress brochure • http://afterschool.gov/ • resource for providers • http://www.meddybemps.com/ • book - 101 Best Web Sites for Elementary Teachers (Paperback) • by James Lerman • http://www.kidsgrowth.com/stages/guide/index.cfm • child development by age • http://www.sedl.org/afterschool/toolkits/index.html • AS training toolkit • http://fitsource.nccic.acf.hhs.gov/fitsource/ • Fit Source: Admin for Children and Families • http://www.cdc.gov/youthcampaign/marketing/tweens/index.htm • tweens – physical activity • http://www.sedl.org/pubs/sedl-letter/v18n01/SEDLLetter_v18n01.pdf • AS newsletter • http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=2123 • overscheduling article • http://www.hyper-parenting.com/sioux.htm • Psychology Today Magazine, Jan/Feb 2003