The STRESS Contagion


When someone is secure and calm, it means they are able to approach new situations without worry and have the strategies at hand to deal with stress as it arises.

Be aware that stress is contagious. When you are around other people who have stressful experiences, even if you don’t, their stress affects you physiologically. In one study of mothers and infants[1], findings demonstrate that infants “catch” their mothers’ physiological stress entirely through interactions with their mothers, without exposure to the stressor itself. Among adults, too, worry and anxiety [2]has been observed to “spread”.

Watch Dr. Kim Schonert-Reichl describe this phenomenon called the “stress contagion” and how we can support children to be secure and calm. Stress is very normal and a part of our daily lives. As a parent you are in a unique relationship where, little by little, you can share tools and techniques that will build resilience in your child - for life!

The tools that Dr. Schonert-Reichl refers to are ones that we can use ourselves and share with others. Each of the following ideas has a link to more specific information: 

Research has helped to understand how the social world influences children indirectly through their exchanges with adults. Mothers and infants, in particular, are attuned to each other.

In a research paper titled; Worry Spreads: interpersonal transfer of problem-related anxiety, the transfer of interpersonal anxiety from one individual to another was examined both as a warning signal as well as an appeal for support.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia (AnxietyBC™) is a non profit organization who work to increase awareness about anxiety disorders; promote education of the general public, affected persons, and health care providers; and increase access to evidence-based resources and treatments.

Follow the link to find General Home Managment Strategies for anxiety.

  • Secure and Calm

    Secure and calm describes the ability to take part in daily activities and approach new situations without being overwhelmed with worries, sadness or anxiety. To be secure and calm also means being able to cope with stress and pressure, and to bounce back from difficulties.
  • Gets Along with Others

    Getting along with others is the ability to form positive and healthy relationships with peers and adults. Children with better abilities to regulate their emotions and behaviours have more friends and experience more positive playtime with their peers.
  • Alert and Engaged

    Being alert and engaged is the ability to manage and direct one's own feelings, thoughts and emotions. In general, the ability to be 'present' and to exercise self-control.
  • Compassionate and Kind

    Being compassionate and kind is closely related to empathy. While empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and to feel the emotions of another person, compassion goes one step further.
  • Solves Problems Peacefully

    Managing conflict effectively is about creating an atmosphere where violence and aggression are not likely. To resolve conflict means using empathy, problem-solving skills, understanding other points of view and coming up with ways to make things right in a fair way.