Get Ahead Kids Logo Get Ahead Kids Facebook Page Get Ahead Kids Twitter Page Get Ahead Kids Blog Maria Charlton Maria Charlton  

Get Ahead Kids® Feature Article
Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 6, No. 2 - March/April 2014

« Back to Articles

Children's Stress & the Heart-Brain Connection

By Shelley Davidow

As parents we all want our kids to become smart, well-adjusted people. Often we think that means our kids need to get good grades so they can be successful in the world and ultimately happy. But sometimes we inadvertently stress our kids to the limit in our desire for their 'success.'

Recent research by the HeartMath Institute in California tells us that sustained feelings of joy and gratitude in our children's hearts can enhance their cognition. And one can't sustain those feelings in the middle of stress.

When children feel happy, their heart rhythms tend to become more ordered. Ordered heart rhythms affect brain function and improve it. So, positive emotional states in our kids lead to enhanced brain function.

As parents we can help our kids stay positive and unstressed by how we behave. We can put them at a distinct advantage by making sure they have lots of love, understanding, firm boundaries and joy.

Sure, stress is out there, but there's a lot we can do as parents to stop it from having negative effects on our kids. One of the main things we can do is avoid getting stressed out ourselves. For example, my philosophy is a kind of emotional pragmatism: if a child is 'losing it', it's our responsibility to not lose it too. If there's a meltdown, a temper tantrum, a crying fit - maintaining our own balance and emotional stability is essential.

Never stoop to the level of the fray, I tell myself as both a parent and as a teacher. In order to have a positive effect on our kids' heart rhythms, we need to be mindful rather than reactive in our responses. That way, we put our kids at a distinct advantage by minimising stress.

Stressed kids can be disadvantaged. No one can think properly when stressed, because stress causes the body to get ready for fight-or-flight. Blood flows away from the brain to the limbs in response to fear. The stress-response was wisely designed to get our prehistoric ancestors away from danger, but these days, we still have the same physical reaction to stressful situations even if they aren't immediately life-threatening. Kids who are distressed about school, or friends, or upcoming tests or what to wear, need loving support.

Regardless of the issue, if we as parents maintain a calm demeanour, and focus on the state of our own hearts, we're actually encouraging optimum brain function in our children. In our never-ending quest to do what's best for them, we sometimes forget the essentials: what happens in our children's hearts influences the brain's electrical activity. Feeling happy and loved and unstressed makes children smarter. Imagine that.

About Shelley Davidow

Shelley is the author of Raising Stress-Proof Kids. Shelley is a teacher, an author and a trained facilitator in Restorative Practice. She runs workshops nationally and internationally on the impact and management of stress at home, in the workplace and in the classroom.

More Information


Share |

Get Ahead Kids Magazine

Advertisement Label

Fantastic Reader Giveaways!

Get Ahead Kids Giveaway

Fantastic Family Giveaways!

2 x LeapPad3 Tablets
3 x 'What's up with Eleanor? Medikidz Explain JIA' Books

Click here to enter!

Get Ahead Kids Giveaway Family Facebook Giveaways!

3 x Googly Eyes Board Games

Click to LIKE Get Ahead Kids!

Activity Zone

Get Ahead Kids Giveaway Crosswords, Scrambles, Colouring In fun for everyone.

Click here for fun

Advertisers Directory hey dee ho music I Can Read System InParenting Newcastle Grammar School

About Get Ahead Kids

About Get Ahead Kids Magazine®
Press Room
Advertise in Get Ahead Kids Magazine®
Advertisers Media Kit
Article Contribution Guidelines
Contact Get Ahead Kids Magazine®
Privacy Policy
Internet Policy
Site Map

Get Ahead Kids Magazine

Spotlight Celebrity Interviews
Book & Product Reviews

Stay Connected

Share |

© . All Rights Reserved.