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The Dendrites Come Marching Home Stressed And Upset

The Dendrites Come Marching Home Stressed And Upset

In an earlier post I mentioned dendrites and the hippocampus. I want to delve into more of what they do to affect your behavior, and yes, your ability to enjoy life. What is happening in our students and athletes is a toxic stressful environment. I am all for positive stress. I look for opportunities to provide and participate in it. It is my fuel to be competitive.

When negative stress is accumulated over a long period of time performance, fun, and enjoyment are affected. Over time the dendrites, the cells the brain uses to communicate inside the brain are destroyed. Yes that is right, destroyed. The hippocampus, the part of the brain used for reasoning and memory are affected.

The University at Freidrich Schiller College in Germany released a study from their department of Biological and Clinical Psychology that stated exposure to long term negative stress can cause people to have massive stress response.

You have seen people, we all have, who get out of control over the smallest thing. Parents screaming at a sporting event are an everyday occurrence and for the most part are not positive in nature. Parents berating a teacher for their child poor grade or behavior in a classroom have become commonplace. Adults arguing and have it escalate to physical contact in a short time. The more the parents model this behavior the more the kids copy it.

Most of these behaviors are a response to long term negative stress experienced by the individual without any coping mechanism in place. These people, and there are a growing number of them across all backgrounds, are dealing with long term stress that is compounded by tests in the classroom and on the playing field for their children.

This is what I heard a parent say to the other parents on the team as he was pacing the entire sidelines at a recent Junior Varsity soccer game. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take.” The other parents were agreeing with him. I want to state for the record that it was an awful game played tactically. Not one team in the entire 80 minutes completed four passes in a row.

The escalation of emotion by the parents on the sidelines started to affect the players and the officials in the game. It got to the point that security guard had to come over to a father and tell him to stop. When he tried to yell using a different tactic, his 12 year old daughter pulled him by the arm and asked him to stop.

 As parents, we all want our children to be successful in school, sports and extra curricular activities but this kind of pressure is harmful to a developing brain.  Our strategies focus on a wholistic approach of rasising children, introducing them to sports and academics in a non-threatening, non-controlling environment and allowing them to thrive.

Written by : Jennifer