A mom spoke to me recently about her pre-school son. When she described his symptoms, I told her, “Your son is showing signs of stress. We need to find out where this stress is coming from.” “How can that be? She asked horrified. “He is only three years old! What has he got to be stressed about? We adore him, feed him, protect him, and play with him. We do everything for him. How can such a young child be stressed?”
As I listened to her, I heard three beliefs that are completely out of date. They are that …
- Three year olds shouldn’t be stressed, especially those that come from happy, safe environments.
- If the child is stressed this means the child has an emotional problem.
- Model parents wouldn’t have pre-schoolers that feel stressed.
Wrong on all counts! Here is what the up-to-date facts are.
- There are no age limits for stress. Even babies can feel stress. Stress used to be seen as being a problem that mostly affected adults. This is, unfortunately, no longer true. In fact, stress is the most dangerous and most ignored condition affecting children today.
- tress is not purely an emotional issue. Stress is emotional as well as physical. It could be that something is hurting the child’s body which will then also cause emotional stress. Or something is hurting the child’s spirit, which then upsets the child’s body. It doesn’t matter which one comes first. It is important to understand that stress will always be felt both in the body as well as in the spirit.
- Parenting today is no longer the same as it used to be. Today parents are required to be knowledgeable and up-to-date about the latest research in health and wellness, stress in kids and the body-brain-spirit connection.
What parents need to know about the body-brain-spirit connection.
Stress in the body
As I mentioned above, stress can start in the body and affect the spirit or start in the spirit and affect the body. But they will always be interconnected. Let’s start with stress in the body. What could cause the child’s body to be distressed?
Here is just a short list:
- Hidden food allergies.
- Toxins and chemicals in your home and the child’s environment that the child is sensitive to.
- Problems in your child’s digestive system that you are unaware of.
- Parasites, bacteria, fungus, worms in the intestine that could be creating stress.
- Vitamin deficiencies that you are unaware of.
Too often doctors treat the outward symptoms, such as tummy aches, meltdowns, temper tantrums, clinging, sleeplessness, constant crying, always hungry, never hungry, rashes, constipation, diarrhea… without asking some very important body- spirit stress questions, such as, ‘what do you wash the child’s clothes with; does your child’s body have enough vitamin D3, Omega 3, Magnesium, Zinc and other important vitamins; does the child sleep with a dog ; what food does your child crave; is the child’s body absorbing, digesting and eliminating food correctly; what are mom or dad’s stress levels like?
A very high percentage of children who have stress in the body, have digestive problems. The latest research shows an amazing connection between the gut and the brain as well as the gut and the spirit. When something is not working in your child’s gut it will create body-brain-spirit stress. Read ‘The 5 Questions to ask your healthcare practitioner’
Stress in the spirit.
It is important to understand my definition of spirit. It is the self-confidence, identity, energy, identity and personality of the child. A child with strong spirit is one who feels: ‘I am me and I feel great being me!’ When a child feels scared, insecure, or anxious, their spirit hurts. There are a myriad of reasons why a pre-schooler (or a child of any age) could feel such negative feelings. One of these is having parents who are stressed.
Let’s face it. It’s a stressful world. Moms and dads are under increasing pressure to do it all – hold down pressurizing jobs, create the perfect home, and raise the very best children they can. Parents are used to juggling multiple deadlines for themselves, as well as their children, and this can be pretty stressful. Moms and dads very often are not in excellent health themselves because their stress has started to take a toll on them.
Stress is catchy.
When we’re stressed our kids know it, through our faces, our voices, and the tense way we interact with them. Young children, especially pre-schoolers, are quick to sense our moods. They know when we’re unhappy or angry. They are immensely intuitive and perceptive. You cannot fake it. They will know.
Many clients tell me, ‘I hide my stress. I smile and pretend that I am okay.’ Pre-schoolers ‘know’ so much more than we give them credit for. This is why, as parents we need to be aware that if we are stressed, so will our kids be. When your kids feel your stress, this can cause them to feel emotionally distressed.
7 steps of action you can take now to reduce the possibility of your child feeling stress.
- Take the decision to reduce your stress. Seek help with this if you need to. Though sometimes it feels like there is nothing we can do to change our lifestyles, the truth is we do have a choice. We don’t have to live with constant negative pressure, and then have to deal with the effects on our kids. The wellbeing of your child’s body, brain and spirit starts with you.
- Make sure that your child has a healthy gut because this is directly linked to a healthy brain and a healthy spirit.
- We are all exposed to many toxins, particularly from food, water and air, from preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, fertilisers and cleaning products, to mention just a few. Be sure that your child is not having a negative reaction to any of these.
- Reduce and remove emotional toxins in your family relationships. Do not expose your child to bad vibes.
- Ensure that when you are with your child, your body language is calm and tranquil.
- Use a calm, centered, quiet tone of voice.
- Build lots creativity, laughter, and fun into each day.