Nagle talks about the effects of toxic stress on young children

[img_caption link=”” align=”right” caption=”Geoffrey Nagle” alt=”Photo: President Geoffrey Nagle”]Erikson president Geoffrey Nagle spoke to Education Week about the effect of toxic stress on young children.

Although everyone experiences stress, it’s usually for an hour or two when dealing with a certain situation.

Toxic stress is different because it’s not time-limited, Nagle says. It’s unremitting, unrelenting stress.

“It’s when you live with a substance-abusing parent, when you live with a parent with mental health conditions,” Nagle says. “Those things aren’t a bad day. Those are a bad period of life.”

Interpreting stressful behaviors

A wealth of research shows a high rate of expulsion from child care and pre-K programs. According to Nagle, “a child showing very difficult behavior, which means they’re hitting or biting, [can get] thrown out of a classroom pretty quick because the child care center doesn’t have the capacity to deal with that.”

Nagle says child care workers need the background and training to interpret a child’s difficult behaviors appropriately, whether it’s through more teacher training or access to early-childhood mental health services in the community.

“We can’t expect child care teachers to necessarily be the professionals that intervene,” he says, “but we can help them understand and interpret the behavior differently.”

EDUCATION WEEK: Can Early Educators Help a Child Suffering From Toxic Stress?