Brain Story – Toxic Stress

Everyone experiences stress, and learning how to cope with various forms of stress is a crucial part of child brain development

Some stress can be ‘positive’ and other stress can be ‘tolerable’. But, exposure to prolonged or repeated adverse situations can cause ‘toxic stress’ which can lead to:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Problems with memory and learning
  • A reduced ability to control one’s moods or emotions
  • Slower information processing
destressing tips - shaken baby syndrome prevention

The effects of toxic stress on a child’s brain and body can be reduced with long-term, consistent help and support such as:

  • Soothing and caring for children when they are distressed – this helps children’s brains develop healthy stress management functions (Crowley, 2017).
  • Interacting with young children through serve and return rallies, for example by listening and responding to their concerns. This helps build brain architecture and stress management systems (Center on the Developing Child, 2013).
  • Helping to ‘buffer’ the effects of tolerable stresses by offering safe, reliable and responsive support to children and young people.
  • Staying alert to parents and caregivers who may feel overloaded and helping them manage and alleviate these burdens, professionals can help parents and caregivers reduce the level of stress their child is exposed to.

Childhood outcomes can be improved through

destressing tips - shaken baby syndrome prevention

community-based interventions

destressing tips - shaken baby syndrome prevention

increased adult-child interaction

destressing tips - shaken baby syndrome prevention

supportive relationships

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