If you have ever said, "Thank goodness my child won't remember anything before age two," think again. Your baby may not be completely aware of your stress over bills, work, laundry, and the in-laws, but those stresses play a negative and possibly damaging role in her developmental processes. Scientists working with the University of Wisconsin-Madison reveal that the stress hormone cortisol appears in higher levels in babies who have stressed mothers. Science Daily reports girls under the age of 14 with this elevated hormone have difficulty controlling and understanding their emotions. The study includes boys, but male children did not demonstrate the same negative patterns.
Dr. Cory Burghy told Science Daily, "Young girls, who, as preschoolers, had heightened cortisol levels, go on to show lower brain connectivity in important neural pathways for emotion regulation -- and that predicts symptoms of anxiety during adolescence."
Has stress as a mom affected your daughter?
Child Developmental Specialist Karen DeBord, PhD offers some workable tips for moms who want to identify stress in children. Preschool-age girls demonstrate stress by showing a lack of self-control, bed wetting, changes in eating, and difficulty sleeping. Elementary-age girls whine, behave aggressively, and challenge adults. They may have difficulty focusing on tasks and have night terrors.
Dr. DeBord recommends that mothers "keep calm, control anger, and think through a plan, then share the plan with the family." Moms should actively observe stress behaviors, praise their children, and encourage talking about feelings. Have your daughter demonstrate her feelings through art to allow her to explain how she feels. That's an important tool when verbalization is hindered by age or stress.