about Childhood Stress

Stress responses originate from one of the most primitive parts of the brain, the hypothalamus. In situations of real danger, this response is useful - but when we're experiencing this chemical rush day in, day out, it can leave us feeling very worn-down and unhappy. Experiencing chronic stress during childhood can have a negative effect on childrens' emotional, social, and academic development and their future health:
  • Stressed children have on average diminished educational achievement at the milestones of 7, 13, and 1644.
  • Children experiencing stressful situations such as divorce and bereavement have lower levels of emotional wellbeing.45
  • In the long term, stress can cause other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Relax Kids for Childhood Stress


"I've used your positive affirmation cards for a child who was bullied in a previous school. She became a school refuser as she was scared to come to school. Slowly she returned to full time. Every session I had with herI used the positive affirmation cards. She loved them! She has now left us, but recently sent me a thank-you card remembering these lovely affirmations."

Susan Alvis Learning Mentor at Trafford Primary School.

Relax Kids' strategies mimic clinically-proven stress management and mitigation treatments such as therapeutic exercise and yoga, breathing exercises, and mindfulness exercises. These can be used as stress management tools or ways to help at moments of meltdown.

Move and Play - Physical exercise has been proven to help manage symptoms of stress.
Stretch - This stage involves simple, yoga-like stretches. Yoga has been proven to help reduce stress and depression symptoms.46
Feel - Consensual, clothed and supervised peer or self-massage promotes positive touch, which decreases stress hormone levels and increases ‘happy hormone' levels.47
Breathe - Controlled and deep breathing exercises promote calmness and focus. This can help with finding a solution to moments of stress and anxiety.48
Believe - Positive affirmations on either a one-to-one or group basis help to promote good self esteem and confidence.
Relax - Guided meditations allow the mind to focus quietly on emotions and thoughts, after which they can be better understood and dealt with. This may help with coping with and understanding feelings of stress and anxiety.49

Footnotes for all research pages

1 Silva, A. P., et. al., 2015

"Measurement of the effect of physical exercise on the concentration of individuals with ADHD." in PLoS ONE, 2015 Jul; 10(3)

2 Pilkington, K., et al., 2015

"Yoga for Depression: The Research Evidence," 2015 Dec; in Journal of Affective Disorders 89, Nos. 1–3, pp. 13–24.

3 http://www.health.harvard.edu/ mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and- depression Accessed 22/07/2015

4 Busch, V. et. al., 2012

"The effect of deep and slow breathing on pain perception, autonomic activity, and mood processing - an experimental study." Feb. 2012, in Journal of Pain Medication.

5 http://positivepsychologynews. com/news/emiliya- zhivotovskaya/2012032321636 Accessed 22/07/2015

6 Field, T., et. al., 2005

"Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy." Oct 2005, in International Journal of Neuroscience 15 (10): pp. 1397-


7 Creswell, J. D., et. al., 2013

"Self-Affirmation Improves Problem- Solving under Stress", 2013, in PLoS ONE, 2013: 8 (5)

8 Strauss, C., et al., 2014

"Mindfulness-based interventions for people diagnosed with a current episode of an anxiety or depressive disorder: A meta- analysis of randomised controlled trials". 2014 Apr; in PLoS ONE 9 (4).

9 http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/ news/2014/07/16/cbt-primary-schools/ Accessed 22/07/2015

10 Jain, F. A., et. al., 2014

"Critical analysis of the efficacy of

meditation therapies for acute and subacute phase treatment of depressive disorders: A systematic review" in Psychosomatics 2014, pp. 297–302

11 Khoury et. al., 2015

"Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysis." June 2015, in Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 78(6) pp. 519-28

12 Gotink et. al., 2015

"Standardised mindfulness-based interventions in healthcare: an overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs". 2015 Apr; in PLoS One 10 (4).

13 Krain and Castellanos, 2006

"Brain development and ADHD". Clinical Psychology Review 2006 Aug; 26 (4): pp.


14 Loe and Feldman, 2007

"Academic and educational outcomes of children with ADHD" in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology 2007 32 (6): pp. 643-


15 Barbarese, W. J., et. al., 2007

"Long-term school outcomes for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A population-based perspective", in Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: August 2007 - 28 (4): pp. 265-


16 Silva, A. P., et. al., 2015. Op. Cit.

17 Jensen, J. M., 2004

"The effects of yoga on the attention and behavior of boys with Attention-Deficit/ hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)" in Journal of Attention Disorders, May 2004 7 (4) pp. 205-216

18 Powell. L., et. al., 2008

"A journey of self‐discovery: an intervention involving massage, yoga and relaxation for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties attending primary schools" in European Journal of Special Needs Education, Volume 23, Issue 4, 2008,

pp. 403-12

19 van der Ooord et. al., 2012

"The effectiveness of mindfulness training for children with ADHD and mindful parenting for their parents" 2012, in Journal of Child and Family Studies 21 (1) pp. 139-147,

20 Patel, G., and Fancher, T., 2013

"In the clinic. Generalized anxiety disorder." in Annals of Internal Medicine 2013, Dec., 159 (11).

21 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk- england-18251582 Accessed 20/08/2015

22 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ education-27993469 Accessed 20/08/2015

23 Van Ameringen, M., et. al., 2003

"The impact of anxiety disorders on educational achievement." in Journal of Anxiety Disorders 2003; 17 (5): pp. 561-71.

24 Mazzone, L. et. al., 2007

"The role of anxiety symptoms in school performance in a community sample of children and adolescents", in BMC Public Health. 2007; 7: pp.347-57.

25 Cohen, J. A., et. al., 2004

"A multisite, randomized controlled trial for children with sexual abuse-related PTSD symptoms." in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2004 Apr; 43 (4): pp. 393-402.

26 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/ health/4743146.stm Accessed 20/08/2015

27 Broman-Fulksa, J., et. al., 2004

"Effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety sensitivity" in Behaviour Research and Therapy 2004 42 (2) pp. 125–136

28 De Moor, M., 2006

"Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: A population-based study", 2006 in Journal of Preventive Medicine 42 (4) pp. 273–279

29 http://www.health.harvard.edu/ mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and- depression Accessed 22/07/2015

30 Field, T., et. al., 2005, Op. Cit.

31 Brown and Gerbarg, 2005

"Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and

depression: Part II - clinical applications and guidelines," 2005 in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 11(4): pp. 711-717.

32 Black, D. W. et. al., 1993

"A comparison of Fluvoxamine, cognitive therapy, and placebo in the treatment of panic disorder, 1993, in General Psychiatry. 50 (1): pp. 44-50.

33 Gotink et. al., 2015, Op. Cit.

34 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk- england-18251582 Accessed 20/08/2015

35 Kendler, K. S., et. al., 2006

"A Swedish national twin study of lifetime major depression" 2006, in American Journal of Psychiatry 163 (1): pp. 109–14.

36 Kendler, K. S., et. al. 2006 Op. Cit.

37 Lundy, S. M., et. al. 2010

"Cognitive functioning and academic performance in elementary school children with anxious/depressed and withdrawn symptoms" 2010, in Open Pediatric Medical Journal, 14(4): pp. 1-9.

38 Bermana et. al., 2004

"Effects of aerobic exercise on anxiety sensitivity" in Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2004, 42 (2) pp. 125–136

39 De Moor, M., 2006, Op. Cit.

40 Pilkington, K., et al., 2015. Op. Cit.

41 Field, T., et. al., 2005, Op. Cit.

42 Brown and Gerbarg, 2005 Op. Cit.

43 Gotink et. al., 2015, Op. Cit.

44 Jones, E., et. al., 2013

"Family stressors and children’s outcomes", 2013; Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/ system/uploads/attachment_data/

file/219639/DFE-RR254.pdf Accessed 24/08/2015

45 Amato, Paul, et. al., 1991

"Parental divorce and the well-being of children: A meta-analysis." 1991 in

Psychological Bulletin, 110(1), pp. 26-46.

46 Bergera and Owen, 1988

"Stress reduction and mood enhancement in four exercise modes: swimming, body conditioning, Hatha Yoga, and fencing" 1988, in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 59 (2) pp. 148-159

47 Field, T., et. al., 2005, Op. Cit.

48 Brown and Gerbarg, 2005, Op. Cit.

49 Gotink et. al. 2015, Op. Cit.

50 Morozink-Boylan, J. et. al., 2013

"Varieties of anger and the inverse link between education and inflammation: Towards an integrative framework"

2013 in Psychosomatic Medicine 75 (6): pp.


51 Chen, X., et. al., 2010

"Aggression, social competence, and academic achievement in Chinese children: a 5-year longitudinal study." 2010 in Developmental Psychopathology. 22(3): pp.583-92.

52 Field, T., et. al., 2005, Op. Cit.

53 http://www.researchgate.net/ publication/23157862_The_effect_of_a_ selfmonitored_relaxation_breathing_ exercise_on_male_adolescent_aggressive_ behavior Accessed 20/08/2015

54 Creswell, J. et. al., 2013,

"Self-affirmation improves problem-solving under stress" 2013 in PLoS ONE, 8 (5)

55 Gotink et. al. 2015, Op. Cit.

56 Varní, J. W., et. al., 2007

"Impaired health-related quality of life in children and adolescents with chronic conditions: a comparative analysis of 10 disease clusters and 33 disease categories/ severities utilizing the PedsQLâ„¢ 4.0 Generic Core Scales" 2007 in Health and

Quality of Life Outcomes 5 (43)

57 http://www.apa.org/monitor/ 2011/12/exercise.aspx Accessed 20/08/2015

58 Pilkington, K., et al., 2015.

Op. Cit.

59 Field, T., et. al., 2005, Op. Cit.

60 Lesley and Cullen-Powell., 2005

"Exploring a massage intervention for parents and their children with autism: the implications for bonding and attachment" in Child Health Care 2005 9(4) pp. 245-


61 Busch, V., et. al., 2012 Op. Cit.

62 Gotink et. al. 2015 Op. Cit.

63 Land, R., et. al., 2010

"Physical exercise and individuals with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review." in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 4(4) pp. 565–576

64 Lucy E. Rosenblatt, et. al., 2011

"Yoga improves functioning in young children with autism: A pilot study" in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2011, 17(11): pp. 1029-1035

65 Radhakrishna, S., 2010

"Application of integrated yoga therapy to increase imitation skills in children with autism spectrum disorder" in International Journal of Yoga. 2010 3(1): pp. 26–30.

66 Lesley and Cullen-Powell., 2005

Op. Cit.

67 Speka, A. et. al. 2013

"Mindfulness-based therapy in adults with an autism spectrum disorder: A randomized controlled trial" in Research in Developmental Disabilities 2013 34 (1) pp.


68 http://www.spdfoundation.net/ about-sensory-processing-disorder/ Accessed 21/08/2015

69 Busch, V., et. al., 2012 Op. Cit.

70 Koole et. al., 1999

"The cessation of rumination through self-

affirmation" in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999 77 (1) pp. 111-125.

71 Powell. L., et. al., 2008

"A journey of self‐discovery: an intervention involving massage, yoga and relaxation for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties attending primary schools" in European Journal of Special Needs Education, 2008 23 (4), pp. 403-12

72 Surís, J-C., et. al., 1996

"Chronic illness and emotional distress in adolescence" in Journal of Adolescent Health Vol. 19, Issue 2, August 1996, pp.


73 Wolman, C., et. al., 1993

"Emotional well-being among adolescents with and without chronic conditions"

in Adolescent Health Program 1993, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

74 Moyer, C. et. al., 2004

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pp. 3-18.

75 Busch, V., et. al. 2012 Op. Cit.

76 Koole et. al., 1999 Op. Cit.

77 Grossman, P., et. al., 2004

"Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis" in Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2004 (57) 1, pp.