Scientists have discovered that when humans feel threatened or in danger, our bodies flood with hormones that prepare us to respond to the threat with either fight or flight. After the danger passes, or is managed successfully, the body is designed to return to “normal” levels of functioning. This is called the stress response system. A key contributor to the development of a healthy stress response system for young children is the support they receive from the adults in their lives.
When adults are seen as dependable and responsive sources of support during stressful times, children are more likely to learn tools to manage stress effectively and return to. When the adults are seen as unsupportive or in some cases, the cause of the stress, children do not have the same opportunity to learn coping strategies to manage their stress.
Stress can become toxic when children experience prolonged and repeated periods of stress, and the accompanying raised hormone levels. If a child does not have supportive relationships with adults to help them manage their stress, they exist in a continual state of heightened hormonal stress response. High levels of stress hormones in the brain can impact brain and organ development.
Stress can occur when a child’s basic needs for food, water, sleep, safety, and security are not met. Whether the stress becomes toxic depends on the duration and severity of the situation, and whether or not the child has supportive relationships with adults, which act as protective factors in the child’s life.
For the main article on Meeting Children’s Most Basic Needs, CLICK HERE
For the article on Taking Steps to Meet Children’s Basic Needs, CLICK HERE
For the article on Taking Steps to Meet Children’s Emotional Needs, CLICK HERE
For the article on Director’s Corner: Supporting Families to Meet Children’s Basic Needs, CLICK HERE