[김형석원장의 건강민국] Stress in our children can cause developmental issues, so be careful

Photo = Kim Hyung-seok, CEO of da Yulah Oriental Clinic

It is often surprising to see children being treated in oriental clinics. Indeed, there are very few cases where children under the age of 5 or 6 show a significant stress reaction during the examination, such as the diaphragm or the tongue. Children often say, “Eat well, sleep well and sleep well”, but in reality this is not the case.

It is said that stress is the root of all disease. In fact, stress causes both physical and mental problems, and this applies to both children and adults.

Instead, one could argue that stress has a greater impact on children than on adults. Children are at the peak of their development and their ability to handle stress is weak. For example, some children suffer from stress-related hair loss.

The effects of stress on children are varied and, in particular, be aware that there are elements that lead to adverse effects on the “development” of children.

When our body is stressed, a hormone called cortisol is secreted by an organ called the “adrenal gland”. When excessive stress persists for a long time, excessive cortisol secretion occurs, because cortisol breaks down protein and leads to decreased muscle mass and weakness, and increases fat accumulation, leading to obesity. Studies on obesity and height growth show that obese children appear to be taller than children of standard weight, but in terms of bone maturation, obese children’s bone maturation progresses rapidly and their final height may eventually decrease.

Stress leads to a decrease in the secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland in children and conversely can lead to an increase in the secretion of sex hormones. Precocious puberty is a condition in which sex hormones begin to be released much earlier than normal and early secondary sex characteristics appear in children younger than 8-9 years old. On average, secondary sexual characteristics appear between the ages of 10 and 13 in girls and between 12 and 14 in boys. If a girl has lumps on her breasts or pubic hair and menstruates at an early age, and a boy begins to change and pubic hair appears, it is called precocious puberty. In early precocious puberty, the growth rate appears to be faster than its counterparts, but the final height becomes shorter as the growth plate closes early.

Stress is also an important factor that causes a decrease in immunity. When cortisol is excessive, the immune response is suppressed and white blood cell differentiation is also suppressed, which impairs immunity against foreign bacteria and viruses. It is not easy for children to manage their own hygiene, so it is necessary to manage immunity because infection can easily occur in places where many people gather, such as day care centers, kindergartens children and schools. If your immune system is weakened by stress, you will often develop infectious diseases and may miss an important period of growth.

For children to grow well, they must eat well. However, stress causes a decrease in the function of the digestive system. Loss of appetite is due to stress or abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, most often in the form of irritable bowel syndrome. In case of digestive problems due to stress, nutrients may not be digested and absorbed smoothly, and a deficiency of essential elements needed for growth may occur.

So what causes stress in children?

What comes easily to mind is “study stress”. In the past, the stress of the years before the entrance examination was the main focus, but the competition for education was fierce in the fort since elementary school and kindergarten. In the process, the time you can run around and play at your leisure is drastically reduced, and the stress on your studies and academic performance from an early age inevitably leads to many psychological strains. Exposure to unfamiliar friends and teachers and situations where you have to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, called “new semester syndrome,” is also a stressor.

On the other hand, stress in friendships is a representative example. Children are often too involved in friendships and often fear being left out or excluded from socializing with their peers.

Relationships with mother and father are also important factors. In some cases, they suffer from the stress of lack of affection, because they are neglected in the indifference or discord of parents, and conversely, they cause stress by repeating excessive protection or unnecessary intervention in each case.

Appreciation of “appearance” is important, and this trend has a huge impact on children. Even at a young age, there are a lot of issues where they judge each other’s looks, and there are a lot of kids who get stressed out because of that.

These constraints end up acting as factors that hinder the growth in height of the child.

So what can we do to relieve stress in children? We need to look at this from the child’s perspective and find the eye level so that we can identify the cause of our child’s current stress and find a solution.

The best way to relieve stress is to be physically active. In particular, exercises like jumping rope, running, or playing soccer help relieve stress and stimulate platelet growth. If you’re not sure what type of exercise to do, it’s a good idea to start your time with your child and do it regularly.

It’s also a good way to create an environment where you can try new and fun things. Trips, camps, and weekend experiences on a ranch also help relieve stress for children.

There is a way to relieve stress through active activities like these, but on the other hand, you also need to create an environment where you can comfortably relax your mind. It is “the warm environment of the house”. Parents are the ones children depend on the most, and the most comfortable place for them is their home. It is important to create a space called home, where parents can be at peace with each other, have comfortable and pleasant conversations with their children and relax.

If stress continues to cause developmental problems despite these life improvements, medical approaches such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, exercise, and psychotherapy are badly needed, depending on the symptoms and condition. But the most important thing is always parental care and love. Let’s pay more attention to our children growing up safely and being loved by their parents.

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