Spirit of Childhood Toolbox for Crisis Zones

Identifying and Promoting Best Practices to Educate Young Children Susceptible to Toxic Stress

What a joy it is to watch a young child. To see their innocent openness as they explore a world rich with exciting discoveries and behold their lively creativity expressed in play.

To celebrate their growth and and witness their trusting, spontaneous interactions with loved ones and their fearless, wholehearted engagement with life. This is what one notices when the spirit of the child is intact. A healthy adult rejoices when they experience children filled with that lively spirit.

What is the role of stress on the developing child’s spirit? Part of a normal and essential part of healthy development for a child is exposure to positive stress, which is moderate and short-lived and helps children learn how to face challenges. However stress that is severe and prolonged without the protection of supportive relationships disrupts the child’s developing brain architecture and leads to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, physical and mental health.

Research on the impact of toxic stress on children is giving us new understandings of how important it is to learn how to protect and nurture the spirit of childhood. Children who are displaced, in constant fear, living in poverty and other longterm stressful situations are subjected to toxic stress and its damaging impact Under the banner of Spirit of Childhood, an international group of educators and therapists are coming together to identify the best practices that protect and nurture the child’s spirit.