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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?.

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making after school time their time reducing kids stress

Making After School Time Their Time ~ Reducing kids’ stress

developed by

VA Child Care

Resource & Referral Network


discussions for today
Discussions for today
  • Kids and stress
  • Activity vs. downtime
  • Recommendations, activities & resources
what is stress
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
Types of stress
  • Eustress: “good” stress

excitement – healthy competitiveness – challenges - energetic

  • Distress: “harmful” stress overwhelming – pressure – hurt – rushed – tired – fear
types of stress6
Types of stress
  • Positive
  • Tolerable
  • Toxic
the stress response
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
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 lifespan9
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

effects across the lifespan11





Comprehension problems




Chronic pain

Bad diet

Weight changes

Hair loss

Skin problems

Immune response


Effects across the lifespan
so what do kids have to be stressed about





social relationships

peer pressure

self image






starting school

change in routine



So… what do KIDS have to be stressed about?
what kids say about stress
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 stress15
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 stress16
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
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 children20
Recognizing stress in children

Stress can

Manifest itself





fight time
! Fight Time !

Benefits of Activitiesvs.The Risks of Overscheduling

benefits of activities
Benefits of Activities
  • Academic performance
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Fewer behavior problems
  • Lower risk of depression, drug use, risky behavior
risks of overscheduling
Risks of Overscheduling

Academic problems

Curbed creativity

No down-time

Stunted social development


nothing time
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 time25
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
Warning Signs

Young children:


Avoiding eye contact


Older children:

Mood swings

Recurrent sickness

Complaints about activities

helping kids families cope
Helping Kids/Families Cope
  • Homework time, tutoring
  • Providing outlets for stress
  • Providing outlets for creativity
  • Educating parents
  • Educating children
creating a stress free environment
Creating a Stress-Free Environment
  • Build relationships
  • Plan around them
  • Let them plan
  • Provide opportunities
  • Get physical!
  • Model effective coping skills
  • 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
  • stress booklet
  • stress brochure
  • resource for providers
  • book - 101 Best Web Sites for Elementary Teachers (Paperback)
  • by James Lerman
  • child development by age
  • AS training toolkit
  • Fit Source: Admin for Children and Families
  • tweens – physical activity
  • AS newsletter
  • overscheduling article
  • Psychology Today Magazine, Jan/Feb 2003