Stress in kids

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Stress in kids

Postby Marina » Sat Mar 18, 2006 11:43 pm


I thought this guide for informing teachers about stress in children was unusually well-done, considering the source, Headstart, a govt. program.

Adults may find some things useful here also.
There are several pages to this guide, so keep going.

(I think I found this article by doing a search for personal space in educational settings. There are very few articles on that.)

"Homeless children in particular have intense needs for privacy and individual space."

"Children do not respond to stress in the same ways that adults do. They may develop coping mechanisms that make it difficult to play and make friends with other children."

There is a section on characteristics of children in multistressed envrionments.

There is a discussion on the stages children go through: trust, autonomy, initiative.

"children who are highly stressed can benefit from a "therapeutic" setting that provides a refuge from their chaotic worlds-a place that is safe, predictable, and consistent. Certainly, this is true of all appropriate environ ments for preschool children, however, for some children it should be a major focus."

"An environment that helps reduce stress includes the following elements.
Why is this important? Most preschoolers need to get away from the group at times, so all classrooms should include private areas."

"They can benefit from being able to control inputs from the outside world by being in a place where they can withdraw physically and psychologically. Personal spaces allow children to develop self-regulation skills. A child can withdraw from the group to regain control of her emotions and actions. This may prevent the child from completely losing control and acting out in aggressive or other inappro priate ways. "

"Why is this important? Children who live in multistressed environments may have few possessions. They may not yet have developed a sense of ownership and are not ready to share."

"Other ways to create a sense of ownership include providing new individual boxes of markers and crayons, decorating cubbies with photographs of children and their families, making individual place mats for mealtimes, assigning individual floor mats for each child to use at circle time or in the reading area, designating a special place on the wall for hanging each child's art work, and decorating shoe boxes for each child to store "prized possessions."

"Why is this important? A home-like atmosphere is gener ally associated with programs for infants and toddlers because it supports the development of trust and autonomy. A home-like atmosphere can help children feel secure, which tends to enable children to take part in the program's activities."

"Why is this important? Children living in multistressed environments can learn to trust in the program. A class room that is generally the same today as it was yesterday helps them feel in control, safe, and nurtured."

"II. Discussion Topics and Activities

A. Handling Disruptions in Our Lives (15 minutes)
Participants think about a time during the past week when their schedule, routines, or transitions were disrupted. Write down what happened, how you felt, and how you handled it. Your trainer will ask for volunteers to share their responses. These will be recorded on a flip chart. "

(no comment)

"You will discuss why large group activities can be particularly stressful for some children. What happens in your classroom when children are gathered in a large group? Does your daily schedule allow children to be in small groups for most of the day? "

"Disruptions to the daily schedule, routines, and transitions can be very disturbing for children who live in multistressed environments. They tend to need a great deal of consis tency and predictability in their lives."

"When the schedule is very predictable and consistent, children tend to feel more secure."

"Children spend very little time in large group activities.
Many children are not ready for large group activities such as circle time. When faced with highly structured, adult-directed activities they may become frustrated and cope by acting out or becoming withdrawn.
Some children may not have the social skills for even small group experiences. At first, they will be most successful playing alone."

"A pictorial representation of the schedule helps children actually see the order of daily events."

"This can be particularly helpful for children who have very little consistency in their lives and do not have a sense of control over what takes place."

"Predictable routines build a sense of trust and security."

"Some children find it hard to cope with changes because so many things in their lives are unpredictable and inconsistent."

There is a discussion on coping mechanisms.

"They are seeking more control of the situation. Some children have very few opportunities to make decisions or have control over their lives."

"Try eliminating circle time altogether for children who have difficulty coping in a large group."

(Comment: Most preschools have too much group time. I was impressed to find information on less group time. If you are not familiar with preschools, then the quotes may appear to condone indifference to children under stress. This isn't the case at all. I was a substitute in daycare centers, and some centers used us as drive-by staff. This was extremely stressful to the children. I never called a group when I was working alone because it was too stressful until we all got to know each other. Teachers who are group-oriented don't understand this.")

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