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Giving love keeps children sane, according to study

givinglovestudy.jpgMy sister used to tell me that loving others before yourself, the way she did with her four daughters and husband as a stay-at-home mom, was one of the most validating experiences of her life.

According to Yahoo news, in a study of Israeli children exposed to the ?traumatic or stressful life events?, caring for a stuffed animal helped alleviate stress. Children of war living in a shelter were given a stuffed puppy to care for; their parents were told to remind the children of their responsibility. 3 weeks after caring for their puppy, researchers noted lower stress levels compared to children in a control group. Similar studies were carried out with kindergarten-aged children with similar results.

“This cost-effective intervention requires minimal professional resources and can serve as a strategic intervention in situations where many children are exposed to traumatic events such as war and September 11,” Sadeh told Reuters Health.

This report creates special resonances with me because my son had a class activity from his second year in kindergarten (tweede kleuterklas in Flemish). His class was taking care of Bas, a white bear clad in overalls and a bow tie. Each child was to take Bas for the weekend and record all activities in a class journal. Many of the accounts revealed accounts of children taking Bas along for their family outings and being part of meals and play activities. By Sunday evening, my son refused to let me help him change Bas? diapers. Before they slept side by side for their last night together, I read a summary of their weekend together in lieu of a bedtime story. It was the only thing my son wanted to hear that night.

Your children need not be victims of war and other traumatic events for them to develop their abilities to nurture and give love to something, someone beyond their persons. The same principles are operative when a child is allowed to care for his own dog or cat. They?re giving love away and finding that love takes away their emotional issues.

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