Stress Responses in Kids: How Our Children’s Stress Can Prevent Healthy Development by Roma Khetarpal
Learning to cope with stress is an important part of healthy development for children. When stress is on the rise, our bodies prepare us to respond by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. How our bodies respond to stress differs – depending on the environment – and are broken down into three categories: positive stress response, tolerable stress response and toxic stress response:
- Positive Stress Response: Normal response; when meeting a new caregiver or getting an immunization.
- Tolerable Stress Response: Serious but temporary; can be cured by a comforting parent.
- Toxic Stress Response: Prolonged stress; being neglected or abused.
According to research, the damaging effects of toxic stress response may be prevented or reversed if supportive and responsive relationships with caring adults are present as early in life as possible. Reducing exposure to extremely stressful conditions is the best way to prevent damage from toxic stress response.
If at least one parent or caregiver is consistently engaged in a caring, supportive relationship with a young child, most stress responses will be positive or tolerable.