Why Mindfulness is Needed in Education
Healthy stress is a natural part of life, including childhood. Children and adults alike need to be challenged in order to grow and develop. However, in the modern education system, healthy stress is frequently displaced by toxic stress. Toxic stress occurs when life’s demands consistently outpace our ability to cope with those demands.
Toxic stress impairs attention, emotion and mood regulation, sleep, and learning readiness daily in American classrooms. Even more troubling, prolonged exposure to childhood toxic stress has lifelong impacts on mental and physical health.
Toxic stress starts as decreased productivity and creativity, escalating to more serious symptoms like frequent anxiety, dissociation, frustration, and, eventually, burnout. Roughly half a million U.S. teachers leave the profession each year – a turnover rate of over 20 percent.
Toxic stress can lead to a parenting style that looks more like a “to-do” list, rather than an empathic, present-centered relationship with a developing child. Exposure to parental stress in early childhood has been shown to impact gene expression even years later in adolescence.