How Your Life View Can Protect Your Kids From Stress

How Your Life View Can Protect Your Kids From Stress

 Life can be hard. Your perspective on the difficult times can make them easier on your children, however.

A study done at the Emory School of Medicine has proven that when young children experience poverty or violence, there’s a long lasting effect. The impact can follow them into adulthood. But when parents stay calm in stressful times, kids can reap the benefits.
In the study, researchers analyzed what goes on in children’s brains, when they’re processing a possible danger. Scientists showed children aged 8-13 a series of photos of adult faces that were either neutral or expressing fear. It was found that children who had experienced violence in their lives grew more active in their amygdalae-the area of the brain that processes fear and emotion-when viewing both faces, not just the fearful ones.

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This suggests that these kids had developed a fight-or-flight response even for social cues that were not particularly threatening, researchers say. It’s something that can happen when one grows up in an unpredictable or dangerous environment.

But it can be overcome. When the mothers of the children who had experienced violence were present and interacting with their children in a positive and supportive way close to the time that the children viewed the fearful faces, the children were better able to decipher negative emotions from neutral ones. Their amygdalae were less active.

So, what happened in the kids who hadn’t experienced violence? The amygdalae only increased in activity when viewing the fearful faces.

The findings indicate that even if a child grows up in a stressful environment, parental relationships can protect them, say the researchers.

For more on parenting with poverty or violence, click here.  

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