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Fall and back-to-school season means a return to the routine of supervising homework, packing lunches, attending your teen’s hockey games and maybe even putting in some overtime at work! Are you stressed just thinking about it? What about your children?
You may be surprised to learn that children and seniors are the most vulnerable to stress. In children, this occurs because their brain is still developing, and in seniors, because their brain is getting older.
When exposed to stressors, the body reacts by releasing the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make their way back into the brain and affect the areas involved in learning and memory – two key processes for children – and those associated with emotional control.
To understand stress and help children better cope with it, parents should know the four attributes that constitute a stressful situation, as defined by the Centre for Studies on Human Stress.
These attributes are cumulative, meaning that you do not need all four to feel stressed; it also means that the more factors there are, the greater the stress level! In a nutshell, a stressful situation involves:
In other words, it is NUTS!
Entering school for the first time, changing schools, making the transition from primary to high school or just starting a new academic year are all situations that can generate stress in children, and for reasons that vary from one child to the next. Headaches, stomach pains, sleep problems, emotional outbursts and other symptoms can result.
There are two important things to keep in mind.
1. Overprotecting children is not the answer. This will only keep them from developing resistance to stress, a skill they will need later in life.
2. We must teach children to deconstruct their stress to better reconstruct their lives, stress included:
Here’s an example. Your child must attend a new school (New situation) and is afraid he won’t make friends (Sense of control): take him to an open house at his new school, visit the neighbourhood with him and encourage him to have a positive, friendly attitude. Explore different scenarios that involve meeting new students. All of this will help him better adapt to the situation, develop his own strategies and feel more in control.
Going back to school can be even more stressful for children who have attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity. Here are a few additional tips to help both children and their parents:
If you have questions about your child’s medication, your family pharmacist can give you information and advice. Just ask!
[UNIPRIX] - The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.