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Stress Management in Children: A Pilot Study in 7 to 9 Year Olds

Lozada, Mariana PhD*; Carro, Natalia Lic.; D'Adamo, Paola PhD; Barclay, Carlos MD§

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: February/March 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 144–147
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000026
Brief Report

Objective: At present, school-age children suffer high levels of chronic stress that could produce potentially long-lasting effects. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the effects of mind-body integration practices and cooperative activities on stress levels and social interaction in 7- to 9-year-old children.

Methods: We performed an intervention program once a week during 2 months in which children performed mind-body integration practices and cooperative activities.

Results: Our findings showed that these practices reduced cortisol levels and increased social connectedness. Moreover, we found that most of the children used the learned mind-body integration practices in stressful situations in their homes, even 5 months after the intervention.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrated the positive impact of these helpful tools and the great plasticity of children's behavior, which enabled them to incorporate healthy habits. Overall, the intervention enhanced health at an individual level and favored social network diversity at a group level. Our research illustrates how children can incorporate techniques that help them cope with stressful moments and reveals the effectiveness of this experience in reducing cortisol levels. This study contributes to the understanding of how mind-body integration practices and social connectedness can be helpful in reducing chronic stress, a topic that, to the best of our knowledge, has been little studied in children.

*Laboratorio Ecotono-INIBIOMA, CONICET, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Bariloche, Argentina;

Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Bariloche, Argentina;

CONICET, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Bariloche, Argentina;

§Sanatorio San Carlos, San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

Address for reprints: Mariana Lozada, PhD, Laboratorio Ecotono-INIBIOMA, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Quintral 1250, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina; e-mail: mariana.lozada@gmail.com.

Supported in part by Universidad Nacional del Comahue and CONICET.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Received June , 2013

Accepted November , 2013

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins