Little Kids, Big Worries: Stress-Busting Tips for Early Childhood Classrooms / Edition 1

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Research shows that stress in the crucial early years of a child's life can pose dramatic, lasting challenges to development, learning, and behavior. This is the practical book early childhood professionals need to recognize stress in young children and intervene with proven relief strategies before pressures turn into big problems. Developed by celebrated early childhood expert Alice Sterling Honig, this guidebook helps readers address the most common causes of stress in a young child's life, including separation anxiety, bullying, jealousy, and family circumstances. Educators and childcare providers will understand key factors that influence a child's stress level, including attachment, temperament, developmental and learning challenges, health issues, and family pressures become a keen observer of the varied and sometimes subtle ways that children express stress choose from a wide range of stress-busting techniques (see box) all innovative, time-tested, and clinically validated personalize stress-busters to meet the needs of individual children skillfully use stress-reducing strategies with groups of children from diverse backgrounds harness the power of storytelling to model solutions to problems and help children address negative feelings avoid burnout by handling the stresses in their own adult lives, from challenging interactions with parents to issues with co-workers Memorable stories inspired by Dr. Honig's 30+ years of experience show readers how these stress-busters can make a real difference in children's lives, and the questions at the end of each chapter are ideal aids for self-study or professional development courses. Packed with down-to-earth, easy-to-use ideas, this empowering book gives professionals the tools they need to conquer stress in any early childhood setting so children can develop the early social and academic skills they'll need to succeed in school.

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Editorial Reviews

Bettye M. Caldwell

"Anything Alice Honig writes is a treasure, and this book is no exception."

Sterling Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Yale University; Director, Emeritus, The Edward Zigler Center in Child Devel - Edward Zigler

"This highly respected scholar presents a valuable antidote to the current academic emphasis in early education. Using an appropriate whole child approach, she provides practitioners with those tools required to reduce young children's stress which we know to be a major barrier to children's optimal education."

Senior Scientist, FPG Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Virginia Buysse

"Finally, an authoritative resource that offers parents and professionals a wealth of information about how to recognize signs of stress in the lives of young children, and more importantly, practical suggestions for what to do about it."

President, OMEP-USA, The World Organization for Early Childhood Education, Washington, DC - Edna Runnels Ranck

"Amazingly practical advice on understanding how family, school and public events and relationships influence children's behavior. The stress-reducing strategies will really benefit both children and the adults who care for and teach them."

Professor, University of North Carolina, Charlotte - Richard G. Lambert

"Offers very helpful resources to teachers including a framework for recognizing, understanding, and supporting children displaying stress in the classroom."

Early Childhood Education Consultant - Sue Bredekamp

"Strikes the perfect balance between reducing stress and protecting children from harm while also promoting their coping skills and resilience. This powerful book is packed with practical strategies for teachers."

Gail Perry

"...underscores the need to recognize and alleviate worrisome stressors in the lives of young children as early as infancy...This book provides practical and sensitive tools to address this compelling concern. "

Professor Emeritus of Early Childhood Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Bernard Spodek

"A book to help teachers understand and deal with stress among young children, parents, and teachers themselves . . . should find a place in the libraries of both veteran and novice teachers."

December 2010 PsycCRITIQUES

"Gives early childhood educators a tool box of ideas . . . on supporting children living in stressful situations. A summary of best practices in early childhood education."

Literacy and Literature Spotlight on Language

"A detailed reader-friendly book for every teacher."

Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education

"A book that will challenge assumptions about children's behavior and emotional development, while also challenging assumptions of the role of emotional learning in today's early childhood classrooms, an aspect that is far too often cast aside in favor of more academic pursuits."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781598570618
  • Publisher: Brookes, Paul H. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/1/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 527,933
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 5 of Little Kids, Big Worries: Stress-Busting Tips for Early Childhood Classrooms, by Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D. Copyright© 2010 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Every teacher needs a personal supply of strategies that work most of the time to calm children and increase classroom peacefulness. These techniques allow the adult to personalize and enhance positive interactions with each individual child. Included in this chapter are some stress-reducing strategies for children. No one stress technique works every time in every situation with every child. As you become a seasoned child observer, your special knowledge of each child will help you adapt techniques to a particular child in a particular situation. For example, you may find that picking up a child and holding him close in a big hug is a good method for calming that child during a challenging interaction. Your ingenuity and perceptive insights will help you to adapt methods to decrease the child's stress.


Touch is magic; touch is crucial (Honig, 2002). Use soothing touch whenever possible to calm an upset child. Caress a child's back with long, soothing strokes using an outstretched palm. When a tiny child is suffering from separation anxiety during the early times after entering care, holding and stroking the child are especially important to decrease stress. An infant carrier such as a kangaroo pouch works well for soothing a tiny baby with your body warmth and the rhythms of your movements. In the days after enrollment, a toddler often needs more cuddling time when suffering stranger anxiety or separation distress. Yet this same toddler can grin and run boldly away from a caregiver in a delighted show of his autonomy when he is feeling comfortable in the child care situation.

Give a Calming Massage
If a child is perpetually getting into disagreements with other children, set aside a few minutes twice a day as your special time with that child. Use this time to massage that child's back and shoulders, arms, and fingers with lotion; this strategy seems to work like magic for many children. Some preschoolers will even request a soothing rub with "magic" lotion when they are feeling distressed.

Watch an infant massage video. Learn specific gentle strokes, such as Indian milking, Swedish milking, paddlewheel, sun and moon, and other strokes that relax babies' bodies. Massage calms the soul and the body. Babies who are massaged regularly or daily begin to respond to massages with smiles and relaxation (Leboyer, 1976). Locate lotion with colorful sparkles inside. Some preschoolers who need daily arm and hand massages to bring down tense feelings are sure that lovely lotion with sparkling colors has even more magic to soothe worries.

A child who has been abused may stiffen and flinch if you approach frontally to caress the child. Try back rubs and soothing pats on the shoulder in your initial attempts to increase loving touches for that child.

Use Lowered Voice Tones
Use lowered voice tones when trying to calm an upset child. Speak slower and with a soothing, even hypnotic, reassuring tone. The calmness in your voice brings down stressful feelings. Lower rather than raised tones in response to the child's tense exhibition of distress will soothe the child's psyche. This technique often works well also with an adult who is frazzled, sharp toned, and sounds upset on the phone or at a parent conference.

Use a Child's Name Frequently and Lovingly
You have noticed how proud preschoolers are when they learn how to write some letters of their name. Now they can "sign" their own pictures to bring home for parents to display on t

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Table of Contents

About the Author
  1. Understanding Stress in Children's Lives
  2. Sources and Signs of Stress
  3. Insights About Stress: Reflecting and Reframing
  4. Choosing Stress-Busting Techniques to Help Children
  5. Personalizing Stress-Reducing Strategies for Children
  6. Using Stress-Reducing Strategies with Groups of Children
  7. Using Storytelling to Relieve Child Stresses
  8. Adult Stress Busters in Care Settings and Schools: Working with Parents, Personnel, Home Visitors, Supervisors, Mental Health Professionals, and Consultants
  9. Personalizing Stress-Busting Ideas for Adults Caring for Children


Children's Book Bibliography

Internet Resources


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