The term “stress” tends to conjure up images of salaried individuals or business owners who are having a hard time with their finances and/or jobs. In other words, it’s something that’s largely associated with adults. However, even children as small as below 10 years can also experience high levels of emotional strain.
The kinds of stress that children face can be short-lived such as going to a doctor or meeting a new person for the first time, or even long-lasting when they are exposed to negative environments on a daily basis. For instance, if the atmosphere a child steps into at their school is unwelcoming or challenging, then it can cause a persistent tension which may even increase over time, akin to the impact of a demoralizing or emotionally damaging workplace that many salaried professionals have to deal with these days.
Can Stress Affect Learning?
A study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour which took into account the data from 10,700 first-grade teachers and parents revealed many shocking findings of the stressful environment that school-going young children are often put into. It found that in classrooms where the teachers don’t get respect from their co-workers or are under peer pressure end up developing emotional and behavioral problems which create a negative atmosphere for the students.
Since it’s the schools where the children receive most of their education from, when the classroom environment opposes positive reinforcement or creates a situation of stress and anxiety, it can have a severe impact on the learning capabilities of the children.
It’s been found that when students are surrounded by negative classroom conditions, then they find it difficult to pay attention in the class; they act impulsively and lose their focus in the classroom activities, etc.
Classroom elements, such as lack of proper learning material viz. textbooks, and uncomfortable atmosphere due to lack to proper air ventilation, cooling, etc. can also aggravate the stress levels and interfere with the learning abilities of children.
A Wake-up Call?
If stress in small children is not addressed properly and at the right time, it can throw their education in jeopardy and even possibly cause permanent emotional damage. So, it’s critical that the parents as well as the teachers realize the gravity of the situation and take action.
Only a school where the teachers are motivated and have a sense of purpose, there is a comprehensive curriculum that’s implemented successfully, and the physical environment is comfortable (air conditioning or cooling, proper air ventilation, etc.), can help tackle the problem of anxiety in children and pave a road for their better future.
Persistent Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Young Children’s Learning and Development: Working Paper No. 9