Kids have a way of saying things that are just so refreshingly real and down to earth. I had gone for a ride with a friend, Margie, to fetch her 9 year old daughter, Beth, from school. Beth came bouncing up to the car, opened the back door, threw her back pack onto the seat, climbed in, shut the door and loudly announced, “Tim’s hair is falling out ‘cos he’s got stress.’ This was clearly uppermost in her mind because she even forgot to say hello to her mom and I. I was curious to know what 9 year olds know and feel about stress, so I asked her, ‘Beth what do you mean Tim’s got stress?’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘that’s when you worry about things.’ Margie then asked, ‘but how do you know that it’s the stress that’s making Tim’s hair fall out?’ ‘He told us,’ Beth said. ‘The doctor told him that when you worry about things its called stress and if you worry too much, sometimes your hair can fall out.’ So what is he worried about Margie asked Beth, glancing at me with a concerned expression. ‘I don’t know, he never told me,’ replied Beth.
It was quiet in the car for a few minutes and then in an attempt to change the subject, Margie asked Beth to tell us about what was the best part of her day. But Beth was clearly not interested in speaking about this. She was still focused on Tim’s situation. ‘You know mom, she said, ‘Tim actually doesn’t look worried. We didn’t know he was feeling bad. Mom I sometimes get worried too. Do you think that my hair will fall out too?
With Margie’s gentle encouragement and probing, Beth shared that she was worried about not being chosen for the soccer team, about not getting good grades in mathematics and about whether she was pretty.
I thought to myself that she could be speaking for pretty much every 9-year old. The thing is that although Beth has her 9-year old worries, like many others, she is still able to rise above this and meet the challenges of her life. The question then arises why do some kids cope with the pressures placed on them, while others manifest stress- related conditions? I believe that the answer lies in the degree of health of the child’s body and spirit.
Parents need to Take Charge! of this. Here is how you, as a parent, can play a role in keeping your child’s body and spirit at peak levels so that they have the capacity to rise above the immense pressures placed on them.
- Know how to recognize signs of stress in your children in the early stages.
- Be sure to feed your children foods that feed the body and the brain.
- Give the children critical nutritional supplements – especially Omega 3’s, Magnesium, Vitamin B’s, Zinc and Probiotics.
- Practice being present at all times with your children.
- Learn the tools to trigger your child’s natural stress-reducing hormones.
- Deal with your own stress because children will absorb your stress from you.
- Be sure that all conversations between you and your child are ‘healing conversations.’