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Consequences of Stress on Children’s Development

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Thinking back upon my early years there were times when I had to go without lunch money and no bread in the house to bring a sandwich for lunch. Back then there was a program for free lunch, but your parents had to verify every detail of where my father’s paycheck was used for the family. My mother refused to submit pay stubs and any other verification required.  After a while, I was not eligible for the free white bread cheese sandwich anymore. As a result, I remember I would fold my arms on the table and put my head down and go to sleep until lunch was over. Berger found, that compared to children who ate lunch every day did not suffer physiologically as measured by cortisol levels, blood pressure and weight” (p. 414).  It seems like today the same conditions exist for some children of the working poor. Of course, I did not realize that my family was poor because my mother and father “seemed strong and happy” (Berger, 2015, p. 415).

On the other hand, a more compelling environmental condition that can contribute to stress on a child’s development and may leave memories for a child that linger for a lifetime. Some might even wish that they were never born into their family — for example, children living in temporary homeless shelters or their parent’s cars. According to Oxfamamerica.org (2019) “nearly one out of three of us lives in poverty” (p. 1). All over the world, many complicated stressors impact children’s development. Subsequently, one might say some stressors on children development are unintentional and intentional effects of poverty.

Moreover, in some cases, chaos from natural disasters may leave such devastating environmental living conditions and developmental stressors on children’s development. Nevertheless, the country of  Malawi located in the southern part of Africa is one of the countries hit by Cyclone Idai. “According to initial Government estimates, 1.8 million people across the country, including 900,000 children, have been affected by the cyclone which slammed into the country last week”. In addition, for children affected by Cyclone Idai, the road to recovery will be long,” Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. “They will need to regain access to health, education, water, and sanitation. And they will need to heal from the deep trauma they have just experience (News.UN.org, 2019, p. 1). When situations such as this arise, it might be of some comfort to the child if their parent survives to be able to  buffer the impact of the stressors by being supportive and finding someway  to be resilient experiencing the effects of natural disasters.

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