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Included below are examples of ways to apply the strengthen core life skills design principle to policy :. And, here are examples of opportunities to apply this principle to practice :. Reducing the pile-up of potential sources of stress will protect children directly i. Excessive activation of stress response systems affects the brain and other organ systems in many ways. When we feel threatened, our body prepares us to respond by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormones, such as cortisol.
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When stress response systems are activated within an environment of supportive relationships, these physiological effects are moderated and brought back down to baseline. However, if the stress response is extreme and long-lasting— and supportive relationships are unavailable— it can overload multiple biological systems. Constant stress depletes precious energy the brain needs for healthy development in childhood and adulthood.
Frequently experiencing circumstances that seem beyond our control can also lead to a low sense of self-efficacy the belief that we can improve our own lives , which is needed to engage in planned, goal-oriented behaviors. Chronic activation of stress response systems in early childhood, especially without the ongoing presence of a responsive adult, can lead to toxic stress, which disrupts the healthy development of brain architecture.
Experiencing toxic stress during these early years can affect learning, behavior, and health throughout the lifespan. Constant stress also depletes precious energy the brain needs for healthy development in childhood and adulthood to deal with consequential decisions—of which there are many for parents dealing with economic instability or other problems.
In addition, people who have experienced serious early adversity are more likely to perceive and focus attention on potential threats throughout life. A multi-generational approach to reducing external sources of stress on families has double benefits: It means that adults will be better able to provide responsive relationships and stable environments for children, and it allows children to develop healthy stress response systems and sturdy brain architecture, to focus better on learning, and to receive a lifetime of benefits from these early building blocks of resilience.
Listed below are examples of opportunities to apply the reduce sources of stress design principle to policy :.
Finally, here are examples of ways to apply this principle to practice :. These three principles do not operate in isolation. In fact, they are highly interconnected and reinforce each other in multiple ways.
First, progress on any of the three makes progress on the others more likely. For example, reducing sources of stress makes it easier to access and use executive function and self-regulation skills; it also frees up time and energy to participate in responsive interactions. Likewise, helping parents and caregivers improve executive functioning supports their ability to engage in serve-and-return interactions with the children in their care and to create a more stable and predictable caregiving environment.
For example, when an adult caregiver creates a well-regulated environment, children are likely to experience less stress, which supports their healthy development; their improved behavior in turn reduces stress for caregivers, providing a greater opportunity for the adults to continue to build their own self-regulation and executive function skills. Using these design principles to promote positive change on all three dimensions is our best chance to help adults provide safe and responsive caregiving, and to help children get and stay on track for healthy development.
Unfortunately, the converse is also true: significant challenges in any one of these areas can lead to problems in the others. Policymakers, system leaders, and practitioners can apply these three design principles in several ways.
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Below are three suggestions. How are you using the three design principles to reshape policy or practice? That is, to be maximally effective, policies and services should: Support responsive relationships for children and adults. Strengthen core life skills. Reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families. The Science Behind the Principles Scientists have discovered that the experiences children have early in life—and the environments in which they have them—not only shape their brain architecture, but also affect whether, how, and when the developmental instructions carried in their genes are expressed.
I moved two years ago to a suburban neighborhood, designed like the city with sidewalks and lots of green spaces and a ton of kids. My children were 7 and 9 when we moved here, and since that day they have been running free from morning to night. The neighborhood kids play kick the can, capture the flag, build forts, go to the park, run from house to house sitting on porches.
They walk to the neighborhood store for treats.
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They ring doorbells or just go outside to find friends I have to force them not to ring doorbells before am. I never make them playdates because they keep busy. I yell or ring an old school bell to get them inside for dinner or bed. It IS still possible!
MORE IN LIFE
You just have to believe in it. Kids are not around to play with because their parents have over scheduled them.
And parents have over scheduled them because they would be bored because no other children are around kids do live next door, they are just never home. It is a nasty circle. Good lord, let them be kids. I let my 8 year old run free in the park across from our San Fernando Valley home in L.
Sounds like your little one is having a lot of fun Kelly! Awesome to hear and thanks so much for visiting and reading. Thanks so much for your comment Kelly and sounds like a wonderful place to live. I loved reading about your kids building forts and ringing doorbells to find their friends.
Thanks for reading and welcome to the site. Totally my parenting style! No iphones at restaurants for my 3 year old. We bring a bag of cars, puzzles, dinosaurs, dry erase books. People are amazed at how different we look. He then had a ball being hosed down.
I let him play in the flowerbed mulch with his construction trucks. We play with play dough and mix all the colors! I tell my husband when he gives me a hard time for rocking him before bed he will be a day older tomorrow. I raised 9 kids, and life for them was just as you described. Today, they have raised their own chikdren, and love and care abounds.
Now, I will say my great grandchildren seem to be caught up in some of the busyness you describe, as well as the abundance of toys, electronics, etc. A wonderful blog. My husband and I totally agree with this article however after letting our 7 year old ride her bike around the block in our suburban neighborhood we received a visit from CPS. We had to sign a parenting agreement for the investigation to be finalized and part of this was that we would no longer let our child ride her bike without an adult being with her.
Wow, Rebecca, I can only imagine how awful that must have been. I appreciate you reading and commenting and again so sorry to hear about what you and your family went through. I understand that fear that you have of being reported again. Find ways that you can give her more freedom. It will be good for her and you. Maybe go outside when she is there but let her play at a distance eventually working your way into going inside while she plays.
If you want to let her ride her bike around the block at first maybe let her ride ahead while you walk, hanging further and further behind until you feel comfortable letting her do it on her own again. Thank you again and have a wonderful weekend. I would be wondering which one of my neighbors called to report my child riding her bike alone. CPS always has to act upon a notification that something might be wrong.
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