Sunday, September 19, 2010

Master Chef and the Stress on Our Children

The ever-popular television cooking program, Master Chef has now created a Junior Master Chef program which has sparked many questions as to whether putting children in the spotlight like this is such a good idea or whether it is psychologically detrimental to their well-being.

Whilst competition is always good, the associated stress – especially on children - is not good at all.

When children are subjected to stress their bodies react by releasing adrenaline.  This adrenalin, when released frequently or for a prolonged period of time results in different kinds of physical and emotional symptoms.

Physical symptoms may include forms of skin diseases, frequent infections, asthma, fever, sleep disorders, headaches and stomach aches.

Behavioral changes include, irritability, aggression, frustration, boredom and disobeying parental instructions.  Symptoms of sever stress can include isolation tendencies, feeling confused or guilty and lying without reason.

In some cases children who are subjected to extreme stress will suffer what is known as PTSD, (post-traumatic stress disorder).

In the case of Junior Master Chef, the associated stress caused from fame gained, continually being in the spotlight and either failing or winning can have detrimental effects on these children, from low-self esteem, withdrawing from family activities to performing poorly in their academic careers.

Staring in a reality television show would mean that these children have to repress certain feelings.  Their parents would be pushing them to do better and to produce fantastic results.  Failing would mean letting themselves down, their family, their friends, fans and their mentors down. 

The associated guilt, self reprimands and self-loathing can have some serious effects on the child and if expressed continually, will eventually have the child believing these negative self-affirmations.

Fast-forward a few years where in Hollywood, some childhood stars have succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse as a coping mechanism.  This does not mean that all child contestants will go down this path, however as a parent it is better to be informed when it comes to the dangers of childhood stress.

If your child is in a situation that is causing stress, take note of how to alleviate and eliminate this stress.  Provide a supportive and welcoming environment and keep the communication channels open at all times.  If at any time you are concerned about your child’s behavior, react by talking with them and suggesting further counseling if the need arises.

~ Vanessa

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We should do this more often, eh?

So the other day I was sitting in the airport lounge – I had about a 6-hour layover in Vancouver before I could catch my flight back home to Australia.  The airport lounge was empty, save for me and one other gentleman whom I just spotted walking in. 

He walked in, looked around and then must have thought there was a line up – he sat one chair apart from me!  Did I say gentleman?  I retract that statement forthwith, how on earth could he possibly be a gentleman when he invaded my personal space just like that?

Of course I had my laptop on my lap (it’s called a laptop, right?).  I was doing “stuff”, while “invasion” was breathing my air.

What is it with people who have no concept of personal space?  I shudder to think.

He really upset my equilibrium.  Sadly, I couldn’t focus.  My air was being diminished, right?  He sat there comfortably doing “stuff” on his laptop, while I surreptitiously checked him out with my peripheral vision.

He seemed to be engrossed in his “work” – yeah right.  I got up to fetch myself another glass of wine – they don’t serve champagne in the first class lounge, go figure… 

Weird, you know that feeling you get when you know that someone is staring at you (your ass in particular), I was swiftly walking along to the wine cabinet when I realized I could feel the eyes on my behind.  Suddenly I struggled to get my “sway” right.  Don’t you hate that?

Sway, sway, miss a beat, sway… damn, sometimes I walk like a drunk woman – I swear it’s the new runners I was wearing.  I kid you not those shoes are the new design that are meant to give you a full workout while you walk.  It’s recommended that you only wear them for a short while every day – I wear them ALL day.  Still waiting for the effect to take place – EXCUSE ME, it’s been a month already, what am I missing?

Anyway, so I get my wine and I sidle back to my chair and dumbnuts is still sitting right there in my personal space.  It even looks like he could be “with” me.  WTF?  Surely I have the right to choose my “partner in crime”?  But oblivious to everything, he continues to sit there and breathe my air.

A sip of wine, some Dutch courage and I turn to stare at him – only for a moment.  Then I sigh and sink back into my chair, he refuses to take a hint.  I’m now convinced he’s a computer geek.  He has no interest in me, just that blasted computer.
Now I feel deprived.  How dare he sit so close, breathing my air with no intension of striking up a conversation?  After all, we are sharing air aren’t we? 

Sip of wine, heavy sigh, back to computer “stuff”.  

I’m on the road again!