Good Stress? Unexpected Insights From A Kindergarten Child

Self-Reg for parents, photo of man and son sitting on the grass together

On Friday, my teaching partner, Paula, was away. After we cleaned up at the end of the day, I thought that we would discuss some highlights to share with Mrs. Crockett. Many children had stories to contribute, so they took turns talking. Little did I know that one of the final contributions would make me think as much as it did.

Up until this child shared, everyone else spoke about some of their best moments from the day. I was expecting the same from this student, but he surprised me when he said, “Actually, I was triggered.” What?!

His story reminded me of some of my learning from The MEHRIT Centre’s Foundations 1 Course. Not all stress is bad. Many of our kindergarten students openly share stories with us about times that their amygdala was triggered, but usually these are followed up with descriptions of taking a deep breath and moving on to something else. This child though kept attempting different solutions to the problem — independently — and proudly shared this moment of frustration and success with others during our reflection conversation.

On social media and in the news, I’ve read a lot recently about student stress and mental health. I don’t think that we want anyone to be overwhelmed by stress, but I’m wondering now if there’s learning in this short anecdote for adults as well as for other kids. Some stress can be good, and as demonstrated by this kindergarten student, there’s value in not stealing the struggle and eliminating all moments of stress from a child’s life. Do talking about these moments, giving the time and space to problem solve, and supporting students with Self-Reg options that might work best for them, allow for stress to not always be seen as a negative? I have to wonder what the long-term impact of reframing stress might be … not just for kids, but also for adults. I love when a quick conversation at the end of the day leads to more deeper thinking and learning than I could have ever anticipated.

Our Co-Reg Community Facilitator, Aviva Dunsiger has been an active Self-Reg blogger for a number of years. She has taught everything from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and enjoys blogging about her teaching and learning experiences. She blogs professionally on her blog, Living Avivaloca.