Stress Affects Children’s Social, Academic Skills
> 5/27/2008 4:23:00 PM


As children mature, they develop social skills that will aid them as they move through school and through life. They become more skilled at managing their emotions and behaviors, are able to read social cues, and form healthy peer relationships. The skills they develop as early as the age of three can be indicative of the social and academic skills they will display later in life, but the stress they experience at a young age can also impact their abilities.

Stress can have a significant negative influence on children’s development and interfere with their learning and social interactions. Children who have elevated amounts of stress, for example, tend to demonstrate poorer social skills when in a classroom with other children who have poor social skills. However, parents can also have a powerful impact on their child’s social and academic performance, helping their child to develop healthy behaviors and learning habits. Children achieve more positive outcomes in school when their parents are active participants in their academic life, and these results hold true throughout a child’s school career. For many young children, further support provides many benefits. Early interventions are available, such as Early Head Start, a national program designed to improve the behavioral and physical health of young children. Such programs are important tools for helping these children to avoid potential behavioral problems and providing them with the help they need to achieve better cognitive, language, and social functioning.

Parents hold an important place in the development of a child’s social and academic skills. Children who are given positive reinforcement at home with actively involved caretakers tend to excel in social interactions. Positive social experiences at an early age promote increased social well-being and lay the foundations for success both in the classroom and throughout life. Understanding this, and further exploring the mechanisms through which we might reduce stressors, will ultimately improve outcomes for children.


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