Stress Relief Techniques For A Preschool Child Part One

Stress Relief Techniques For A Preschool Child Part One

Many years ago,​ children from birth to​ four or​ five years of​ age exercised natural preschool stress relief. Training in​ preschool stress relief was both unknown and unnecessary. Stay at​ home mothers never worried about trying to​ increase self-concept in​ their preschool children. They did not work to​ instill artificial coping skills and specialized anger management skills in​ pre-schoolers. Common sense dictated preschool stress relief efforts.

In the​ twenty-first century,​ however,​ many who themselves mismanage stress are seeking stress relief techniques for a​ preschool child or​ children. I have been appalled,​ both as​ teacher and principal,​ to​ see the​ negative,​ detrimental changes since I began my career. While we struggle to​ instill greater measures of​ preschool stress relief,​ we actually increase stress on​ young children.

From my viewpoint as​ career educator of​ more than 30 years,​ I would like to​ address the​ issue briefly. What are – or​ should be – appropriate preschool stress relief techniques?

Defining Preschool Stress

Preschool stress is​ the​ response of​ a​ preschool child to​ physical,​ mental,​ emotional,​ and spiritual demands made upon the​ child. When the​ response is​ positive,​ the​ preschooler experiences eustress. When the​ response is​ negative,​ the​ child experiences distress. Both are stress: “eustress” is​ beneficial,​ happy stress; “distress” is​ unhealthy,​ miserable stress.

What Preschool Stress is​ Not

1. Preschool stress is​ not the​ teacher’s demand that Sally come to​ the​ story circle and sit quietly. it​ is​ Sally’s response to​ that demand. Preschool stress relief must focus on​ the​ response.

2. Preschool stress is​ not the​ teacher’s demand that Bobby try again to​ count to​ 20. it​ is​ Bobby’s response to​ that demand. Preschool stress relief must focus on​ the​ response.

3. Preschool stress is​ not Mother’s demand that Sasha stop crying when left at​ preschool. it​ is​ Sasha’s response to​ that demand. Preschool stress relief must focus on​ the​ response.

Preschool Stressors versus Preschool Stress

The most prevalent error in​ attempts at​ preschool stress relief is​ the​ confusion of​ stressors with stress.

1. Preschool stressors,​ on​ the​ one hand,​ are always present. They are an​ inescapable part of​ life. Preschool stressors themselves should never be viewed as​ the​ cause of​ stress. Stressors are simply demands made upon the​ preschool child in​ one form or​ another: to​ cooperate; to​ learn; to​ share; to​ comply with rules; to​ exercise self control; etc.

2. Preschool stress,​ on​ the​ other hand,​ is​ the​ preschool child’s response to​ demands made upon him or​ her. if​ the​ child willingly accepts the​ demands,​ a​ feeling of​ eustress takes over. Endorphins are released and the​ child is​ cheerfully compliant. Preschool stress relief is​ not needed for eustress. if​ the​ child rejects the​ demands,​ however,​ distress takes charge. Distress,​ the​ fight-or-flight mechanism,​ releases adrenalin and the​ child becomes combative or​ fearful,​ and non-compliant. Distress does call for preschool stress relief.

Underlying Reason for Preschool Stress

The ultimate,​ underlying reason preschoolers experience “distress” rather than “eustress” is​ their inner response to​ relinquishing control or​ having no one in​ control.

Preschool children,​ like adults,​ want control in​ their lives. They want and need boundaries. on​ the​ one hand,​ they don’t want someone else controlling their lives. They want to​ steer their own lives. the​ term “terrible twos” originates in​ the​ preschooler’s desire to​ be independent of​ outside control. on​ the​ other hand,​ they want someone to​ exercise firm,​ loving control,​ and if​ the​ adult does not do so,​ the​ child will attempt it.

Basic Requirement of​ Preschool Stress Relief

Stress relief techniques for a​ preschool child must understand and build on​ the​ underlying reason for stress if​ they are to​ succeed. Preschool stress relief must focus on​ the​ child’s determination to​ exercise control,​ or​ have firm control exercised over,​ all 4 areas of​ his or​ her own life: emotional,​ mental,​ physical,​ and spiritual.

Weeding Out Stressors

Preschool stress relief should not concentrate on​ wedding out stressors. the​ stressor is​ seldom at​ fault. No matter how great,​ the​ stressor itself does not determine how the​ child responds to​ it.

It is​ an​ error to​ believe that any of​ the​ following 7 approaches (which I have witnessed often) will accomplish preschool stress relief.

1. Adults give commands,​ and let children comply or​ not,​ as​ they wish.

2. Adults let children roam the​ room at​ will.

3. Adults let children refuse obedience until the​ count of​ 5,​ 10,​ etc.

4. Adults separate children who refuse to​ get along together.

5. Adults ignore misbehaving children,​ hoping desire for attention will win.

6. Adults classify misbehavior as​ stress behavior,​ and permit it.

7. Adults teach preschool stress relief techniques that focus on​ relaxation,​ smiling,​ and deep breathing,​ but neglect the​ root cause.

Successful preschool stress relief has a​ proven formula,​ which we address in​ Part Two of​ this article.

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