Stress and trauma has a big impact on children’s learning and behaviour. According to porter, 2000; Jewett & Peterson, 1997 there are two types of stress; acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is a sudden intense onset and gradual subsidence of the stressful event. For younger children this could be an event such as short-term absence of a parent/caregiver, whereas chronic stress could be due to prolonged or comSplete separation of a significant person in the child’s life. This ongoing stress has the most significant and detrimental effects on children which include changing their brain chemistry and function, and lowering their resistance to illness and disease.
The younger a child is the greater the impact of new events, and the more powerful and negative stress becomes, stress is often defined by its source, either internal or external (Jewett & Peterson, 1997). Internal stress is usually something that internally affects you it can be caused by such things as hunger/thirst, pain, temperature change or illness and over or under stimulation (Jewett & Peterson, 1997). Children are unable to communicate their internal stress through talking so it is vital for caregivers/family to attend to the biological needs of each child. New born infants can cope with internal stress by suddenly falling asleep or crying to get the nurturing effect from their parent/caregiver. External stress is something that has affected you externally such as a significant event or added demands on the body physically, emotionally or cognitively. Some aspects of external stress can be separation, changes or hurrying.
There are many symptoms and physical behaviours that can affect a child’s ability to learn porter, 2000 and Jewett & Peterson, 1997 believe that stress in children is often recognised through a physical reaction such as having more toileting accidents than usual, crying and sweating a lot, being withdrawn from social settings, excessive shyness, worrying and clinginess, children can also become aggressive and defensive maybe even become depressed. Some children have nervous fine motor behaviours, such as pulling or twirling their hair and biting. It is believed that these behaviours symbolise children’s struggles to cope and react to stressful events. Children commonly distance themselves and behave in ways that reduce stress such as avoiding eye contact some children may even try to hide their vulnerability by being aggressive and disruptive. As children get older they develop problem solving skills that will help them cope with various stressful events, children need to be carefully monitored as some coping strategies may lead to behavioural patterns that are difficult to change (Jewett &Peterson,1997).