What if your child’s brain cells were being eaten away? What if you notice that he’s been having trouble learning new things or having difficulty with his memory? Has he started talking excessively? Is he constantly fidgety? Is he complaining of feeling like bugs are crawling all over his skin? Does he have headaches? Is his heart pumping fast? Is he having stomachaches, constipation, diarrhea?

All these can be signs of stress toxification. A small amount of adrenaline and cortisol can be beneficial. Cortisol can regulate blood pressure, manage glucose levels and enhance the immune system. Adrenaline, in small, temporary doses, can increase memory and alertness as well as improve brain function. The problem comes when kids are under constant stress, experiencing too many demands and pressures with no safe place to decompress. Chronic stress causes a constant flow of what are supposed to be “health-aiding hormones” to become toxic. Instead of short bursts of energy and improved memory and immune function, they can turn on your child and cause a variety of negative symptoms as mentioned above, leading to serious illness.

What can you do as a parent?

The very first and most important thing a parent can do is to set a healthy example. With all the negativity lately on the news and social media, there is much reactivity and anger being flung about. Your child is watching and absorbing your energy as well as learning how you respond to stress. Kids learn by watching and experiencing. Stress and negative energy are contagious. So the first thing you can do is be aware of your own responses. Remember there are no wrong feelings, but there are plenty of unhealthy behaviors in the expression of those feelings.

Be able to admit when you are feeling angry, scared and threatened. Recognize that stress hormones are being released in you and must be released — not by yelling and cursing and threatening, (because that only multiplies the problem, releasing more stress hormones) but by taking a deep breath, detaching from excess drama and looking for constructive solutions. Physical exercise is also vital for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Learn to take a walk when you are frustrated; go outside; breathe some fresh air.

Distract yourself with something fun. Laughter is a great way of releasing stress. Drink plenty of water as it flushes toxins from your body. Maintain a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Minimize alcohol use.

When you are able to maintain your calm, you are in a better position to help your child work through the stress. You will find that it’s easier to meet your child’s anger, hurt, frustration with a calm and loving response when you are calm and relaxed. Help him talk through what is bothering him rather that yelling at him to knock it off.

Kids are always communicating, but they don’t have the words to describe complex concepts and confusing emotions. They need you to walk them through it and teach them in a loving way.

One of the best predictors of success for children is a healthy family environment where they can feel safe and loved.

So if you, as a parent, have the tools to express emotions and respond to stress in an effective way, your kids have a better chance of navigating this very stressful and confusing world, and can learn to release stress as it comes and stop holding onto toxic emotions.

Marianne Clyde, award winning therapist, is the author of three Amazon best sellers, owner of the Marianne Clyde Center for Holistic Psychotherapy in Warrenton, VA, and founder of Be the Change Foundation, helping women build and sustain successful businesses. Find our more about the great therapists at marianneclyde.com or by calling 540-347-3797.