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Family Support Helps Kids Manage Stress

Family Support Helps Kids Manage StressA new study discovers stress is not always bad for children — with the qualification determined by the degree of support the child receives from parents.

Researchers have known that children who are especially reactive to stress are more vulnerable to adversity and have more behavioral and health problems than their peers.

However, a new longitudinal study suggests that highly reactive children are also more likely to do well when they’re raised in supportive environments.

The study appears in the January/February 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.

“Parents and teachers may find that sensitive children, like orchids, are more challenging to raise and care for, but they can bloom into individuals of exceptional ability and strength when reared in a supportive, nurturing, and encouraging environment,” according to Jelena Obradović, an assistant professor in the School of Education at Stanford University.

A combined research team looked at 338 kindergarteners, as well as their teachers and families, to determine how family adversity and biological reactivity contribute to healthy development.

They found that children who had significantly stronger biological reactions to a series of mildly stressful tasks designed to look like challenges in their daily lives were more affected by their family contexts, both bad and good. This means that highly reactive children were more likely to have developmental problems when growing up in adverse, stressful family settings.

But contrary to expectation, such children were also more likely to thrive when they were raised in caring, low-stress families because of their sensitivities to the supportive and nurturing qualities of such environments.

“The study tells us that when children are highly susceptible to stress, it’s not always bad news, but rather should be considered in terms of the type of environment they live in,” explains Obradović.

Source: Society for Research in Child Development

Family Support Helps Kids Manage Stress

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Family Support Helps Kids Manage Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/08/family-support-helps-kids-manage-stress/11250.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.