Why are our young children so stressed, distressed and sick?

Why are our young children so stressed, distressed and sick? 150 150 Jane Evans


Alarming new statistics on Children’s mental health should scare us all! 

Firstly, because so many young children in our affluent 21st century ARE suffering. Secondly, because it’s entirely preventable. Thirdly, because solutions are SIMPLE.

Even I was shocked by the statistics in this recent BBC article,

“In 2017-18, some 18,870 children aged under 11 were referred for specialist support. This was a rise of 5,183, or more than a third, on those referred in 2014-15.”

What’s going on? 

In a word,  disconnection. Children can NOT sort through their own emotions or make sense of their behaviour, or the world around them. To be fair, most adults really struggle.

Children’s under developed brains, nervous systems and emotional intelligence means they need regular refuelling. This looks like small checks-ins on an emotional and/or physical level with the adults in their daily lives. Like small space ships, they need to dock into the space station whenever their emotional and physical tanks are struggling. 21st century living has made this hard to find.

Why is stressing out the adults a BAD idea?

Sending everyone out to work as much and often as possible isn’t what nature intended. In prehistoric times if babies and children weren’t close to those they had a bond with they’d likely get eaten! The same needs and drives are wired into them but 21st century living if full of stress and distractions for adults which greatly affects children. Adults are often emotionally and physically pushed to the limits by the demands of life.

What must change?

Children need more time one on one, or with small groups of adults who are emotionally plugged into them. It’s not about perfect attunement, but there is a basic comfort and regulation from adults who are available both emotionally and physically.

We can improve children’s mental health outcomes by addressing our stress levels, even before conception. From birth we need to prioritize slow and simple so we can be emotionally present and tuned in. This addresses the inbuilt needs children are wired for and means they get to deeply connect with the adults in their daily lives. This creates a great foundation for good mental health. A lack of it does not!

Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans

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