Through the four-part series with MyChildFirst, Divya Deswal spoke about a woman’s journey into motherhood and how she single-handedly has the power to affect her children’s lives concerning childhood stress.
The early experiences in the prenatal stage have a lifelong imprint on the child. Natural birth or cesarean section leaves an indelible mark on the child’s physical and mental wellbeing. A smooth, natural transition from the womb to the world can make the child feel loved, wanted, and ready for the outside world. The sequence of birth is completed with the intimate golden hour between the mother and child. This postpartum skin-to-skin contact has therapeutic effects for the baby, influencing his emotional and physical state for years to come.
In the last of the series with Kidskintha, Divya traced back to the very basics – human beings’ innate need to connect with another, and how a meaningful connection transcends body and soul. She went on to highlight how the everyday home environment subconsciously layers the child’s beliefs and personality. The simplest of parenting lingo impacts the child’s psychology and tunes his behavior to meet his parents’ expectations.
This talk will make you ponder over the household environment surrounding your child and whether it is unintentionally shaping your child’s beliefs and personality.
Here is the synopsis of our talk with Divya Deswal on childhood stress. We highly recommend you watch the interaction…
What does stress do to your body?
Depending upon our perception of safety or threat, biological changes take place within our body. When in danger, your body will shut down and build a defense system. One of the parameters of defense is cortisols. In the short term, this is a protective measure, whereas, in the long term, it can cause harm.
How to escape stressful situations?
The connection between human beings acts as a buffer against stress. We feel safe when we are not alone.
What causes childhood stress?
Monetary stress or a strained relationship triggers anxiety for the parent, but not for the child. The child needs at least one person to love and nurture him every single day. Since this role is played by mothers very often, it is important that the mother feels loved and safe.
A baby can sense his mother’s emotions. If she feels unloved, the child responds to the mother’s state of emotional turmoil.
Various situations can translate into a negative environment for the child. This could be the physical absence of parents, uncertainty about the primary caretaker, or if the baby feels the primary caregiver isn’t vested in his overall wellbeing.
What are the signs of stress in a child?
The biological patterns, such as eating and sleeping, reveal how the child has been affected by his environment. Ask yourself these questions – Is my child getting up to feed often? Is there resistance to sleep? Does he cry a lot? Does the baby suck a lot? Is the baby restless and unable to be still?
How to help a stressed child?
A sense of safety is paramount for the child. The child feels loved, wanted, and safe when one person is consistently taking care of him. If the child feels threatened or unsafe, he knows ‘his person’ will be there to comfort and nurture him.
Should we teach children to cope with stressful situations?
A child should not have to cope with stressful situations or deal with childhood stress. Children shouldn’t learn to cope with difficult times unless the situation is beyond parental control. Shielding the child from stressful situations is really the job of the parents.
How does childhood anxiety go away?
It is imperative to understand what is causing stress for the parents. The parents need to look at their childhood and reflect on their inner child. Every individual’s beliefs, behaviors, and habits result from the parenting style that they were exposed to.
“Becoming a parent becomes an opportunity for creating a new you by doing the work for your own inner child… and then bringing the love and compassion to your child!”
The Motherhood Pedestal
We have equated motherhood with martyr hood. Kids sense the situation and emotions of the mother. If she keeps quiet about her inner turmoil, the child tends to dwell in uncertainty which is not healthy. On the contrary, if the mother talks to the child about her emotions…she validates the child’s understanding of the current situation. In the process, he begins to trust his feelings.
The Building Blocks to Recovery
There should be at least one person in the child’s life who gives consistent care. Encourage your child to talk to you. Do some free play and express your love with hugs and kisses. We encourage all activities that can reset the internal nervous system to feel safe. We don’t know how the baby has metabolized the world and how much time it will take to heal.
You cannot wipe the experience of the trauma. Consistency, patience, and compassion are very essential for the path to recovery.
Creative ways to reduce stress
Exercise is a very good way to reset the parasympathetic nervous system; playing with the child, babywearing, walks, looking at nature, automatic drawing, music therapy, getting together in groups, dance, and expressive narrative writing are all forms of therapy.
Did you know that babies ARE NOT resilient?
Babies are not resilient. Behaviorally they may adapt, but their biology doesn’t.
When babies are neglected, they develop strategies to cope with situations. When you leave the baby for four nights expecting him to sleep independently, the baby learns to believe that when I cry, nobody comes. ‘Nobody is coming’ becomes the truth of their lives. This causes a ripple effect causing behavioral issues, behavioral issues in relationships, no self-worth, etc.
Divya also touched upon the following topics:
- Reflect on different methods of sleep training – what are they doing for your child? Are they adding to childhood stress?
- What happens to the child’s mental being when parents separate? How have you protected your baby through this life-altering transition?