Common Sources of Stress in Intermediate Phase Learners

What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to change. When the body is under stress it is affected by various stimuli, also called stressors, which will cause changes in the body. The body’s response to stress is called homeostasis; this is a vital function of our body where it will strive to maintain a normal or balanced state. There are two types of stress – good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). Eustress can motivate children to reach their goals, where distress can cause physical or psychological breakdown (Weinstein and Rosen 2003: 272). Everybody experience stress, even children. I am going to discuss common sources of stress (stressors) in intermediate phase learners. Then I will look into how an educator can assist learners to cope with these various sources of stress.

Common sources of stress in intermediate phase learners
Intermediate phase include grades 4-6, in other words children of ages 10 to 12. During a child’s development they are confronted with challenges and demands. These can be external (for instance the environment) or internal (changes in the body as they grow). I am going to discuss sources of stress in three different categories.

Stress of growing up
Weinstein and Rosen (2003: 276) identified stressors children may experience while growing up and they are: Meeting personal goals – parents or teachers can set goals or tasks that are too difficult. In a child’s attempt to reach this they can be unsuccessful which will cause stress. Every so often children set unrealistic goals for themselves as they compete with friends. It is important to set realistic and attainable personal goals because if they are too low, children can become unmotivated and they would not realise their potential. Self-esteem – are affected and developed by surroundings, parents, friends, success, failure, family values, attitudes and personal experiences. A positive selfimage will result in the development of good skills to effectively cope with...