Monday, February 20, 2012

Best Friends Help Improve Your Child's Health, Researchers Say

While you may be concerned about cutting out overly processed foods in your child's diet and making sure that he or she stays active to promote overall good health, what you may be needing to do is make sure that your child spends quality time with his or her best friend, especially when your child is down in the dumps. This is because according to a new study, having a bestie around when something "stressful" or "unpleasant" happens to your child can actually positively affect your child's mental and physical state.
A team of Canadian researchers from Concordia University tested more than 100 fifth and sixth graders, evenly divided by gender. What they discovered was that when a child was scolded by a teacher or got into a disagreement with a fellow classmate, the test subjects were less likely to release cortisol if they're best friend was near them. Cortisol is a stress hormone that while typically associated with health complications in adults (makes sense— adults are the ones to get stressed out more often) an excess of cortisol in children has staggering long-lasting effects: it can ultimately stunt development and growth as well as weaken the immune system.
The stress hormone is also linked to low self-esteem—too much can make children have a lower sense of self-worth, according to researchers. And naturally, low-self esteem can lead to more severe disorders like depression and eating disorders in the future.  So it's important to have a balanced level of cortisol as a child.
An earlier Concordia study even linked higher levels of cortisol to behavioral issues in young children. Those with too much cortisol were more likely to disrupt classrooms and be mischievous.
So if you have some bad news to tell your child or if he or she comes home upset because they didn't have a valentine this year, it might be best to invite his or her best friend over to cheer him or her up—their health depends on it. Not to mention that having friends can help children become more sociable (which can help them later on in life) and can even help them deal with bullies, some studies say.
The study, which is officially titled "The Presence of a Best Friend Buffers the Effects of Negative Experiences," is published in the journal of Developmental Psychology.
This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes on the topics of online universities advice.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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