Clancy Blair, Ph.D.
Clancy Blair, Ph.D.
Professor of Applied Psychology
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University

Parents, Teachers Tackle Kids’ Stress

Noted stress researcher Clancy Blair, in an interview with LearnNow, offers an overview on childhood stress and its impacts. Here is Part 3 of an excerpt from a longer interview. Listen to the complete podcast here.

LearnNow: What can parents, teachers and schools do to recognize stress and ways to reduce it?

CB: That’s a great question and one that we’ll hopefully know a lot more about in the next five years—in terms of the idea that we might see children responding in certain ways that can be perfectly reasonable given the child’s current physiological and psychological state but are a mystery or even seen as downright contrary to a teacher or parent trying to understand how children are trying to make sense of their world. To think about that in relation to stress and stress physiology could be really important. So I don’t have any clear answers for that but hopefully we’ll be able to develop some recommendations in the next couple of years.

LearnNow: Are their resources or interventions that we can offer to parents and educators that you would recommend, or places to go for further reading for a general audience?

CB: Right now, no, not necessarily in terms of interventions. The Tools of the Mind program has gotten a lot of buzz, deservedly so to a certain extent, but we really don’t know if that program is going to do what we want it to do. And most importantly, I think we don’t know completely what the active ingredients of Tools of the Mind are. It would really be helpful to have a better sense of what those ingredients are to move away from any branding and to avoid a rush to implement something. What we really want to do is to steal the relevant, important ingredients from that and make them widely and freely available, put them in teacher education programs, those sorts of things. I’d say we’re still some ways away from that. There should also be benefits to children’s self-regulation, their stress and their ability to handle stress through programs like PATHS that focus on behavior management and modification, emotion knowledge and understanding, and regulation. There seems to be a push toward attention training—I think that is a real possibility as well. Contemplative practice with young children would be one that I think would be important, but right now we are all over the map. But hopefully, again, in the next couple of years, this will begin to come together in terms of some coherent, focused, empirically based recommendations that are theoretically sound and very meaningful for practices in schools and in homes that can really foster children’s self-regulation development. We don’t need to wait a whole lot for the research on that; we can begin to make recommendations, I think, and then the research will work together with those recommendations, as this becomes an increasingly important area of child study.

Learn More:

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the Clancy Blair interview on childhood stress.

“Early Lessons Shape the Brain,” by Elena Bodrova, co-creator of the Tools of the Mind program

“What Your Child May Not Be Learning,” by Kelly Schmitt Gouss, about social and emotional learning programs like PATHS and MindUp

Related Reading:

“Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?” by Paul Tough, New York Times

“Talking With Your Children About Stress,”a guide from the American Psychological Association