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Everything is not fine: Kids can tell when parents suppress their stress

New research finds that parents suppressing feelings of stress around their kids can actually transmit those feelings to the children.

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Photo by Juliane Liebermann from Unsplash.com

Stress is common in a family setting, especially when people are spending so much time together under stay-at-home measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. New research finds that parents suppressing feelings of stress around their kids can actually transmit those feelings to the children.

In a paper published in Journal of Family Psychology, Sara Waters, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development, and her colleagues studied interactions between parents and children between the ages of seven and 11. They found that children had a physical response when parents tried to hide their emotions.

“We show that the response happens under the skin,” said Waters, the corresponding author on the paper. “It shows what happens when we tell kids that we’re fine when we’re not. It comes from a good place; we don’t want to stress them out. But we may be doing the exact opposite.”

The researchers studied 107 parents, nearly half of whom were fathers, and their children. They first got baseline measurements from both parent and child, and asked each to list the top five topics that caused conflict between them. Then, they separated the parents from children and asked each parent to perform a stressful activity, like public speaking, to activate the physiological stress response system.

Next, with the parent suitably stressed, they brought the child back in and asked them to have a conversation about the topic that ranked highest on both of their conflict lists. Half of those parents were asked to suppress their emotions during the conversation.

The interactions were all filmed and scored by third party viewers who didn’t know which parents were in which group. The parents and children also had sensors on their bodies to measure the physiological responses.

They found that for the groups suppressing emotions, both parents and children were less warm and engaged with each other.

“That makes sense for a parent distracted by trying to keep their stress hidden, but the kids very quickly changed their behavior to match the parent,” Waters said. “So if you’re stressed and just say, ‘Oh, I’m fine’, that only makes you less available to your child. We found that the kids picked up on that and reciprocated, which becomes a self-fulfilling dynamic.”

In the study, mothers in the control group did not transmit their stress to their children. But, for mothers asked to suppress their emotions, their children exhibited more signs of stress, both physiologically and externally. It wasn’t the same for fathers.

“We found that moms and dads were different,” Waters said. “We were looking for a physiological response, but there wasn’t one in either the control or the experimental condition where dads transmitted stress to their kids.”

“We think that fathers not transmitting their suppressed stress may be because, often, fathers tend to suppress their emotions around their children more than mothers do,” Waters said. “The kids have experience with their dad saying things are fine even when they’re not. But it was more abnormal for kids to see their mom suppressing their emotions and they reacted to that.”

The more out of control parents feel, and during a global pandemic that feeling is likely exacerbated, the stronger they have an impulse to reassure their kids that everything is ok.

“Research shows that it’s more comforting for kids to have their feelings honored than just be told ‘It’s going to be fine,'” Waters said.

For instance, if a child tells their parents it sucks not to see their friends anymore, don’t immediately try to fix that problem, Waters said.

“Just sit with them and give them a chance to regulate those emotions on their own,” she said. “Try not to show that you’re frustrated with them, or solve their problem. And try to do the same for yourself, give yourself permission to be frustrated and emotional.”

Waters said her biggest fear with this study is it will cause parents more stress.

“We don’t want this to be another thing that parents stress out about when raising their kids,” she said. “It’s not that you are screwing up–but honor your feelings and your child’s feelings. Be brave enough to look at it. Kids will work their way through it; they’re good at it. Giving yourself permission to feel opens up your mind to more and better problem solving. It’s a good thing.”

Waters published the paper with Tessa West of New York University, Helena Karnilowicz of the University of California, Berkeley and Wendy Mendes of the University of California, San Francisco.

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Celebrating World School Milk Day by making milk safe and accessible to Filipino school children

Tetra Pak believes that attaining a sustainable future is anchored on initiatives protecting people and the planet. That is why alongside its efforts in ensuring safe nutrition for children, Tetra Pak is also helping promote sustainability in various communities by providing recycling training for teachers and students.

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In light of World Milk School Day, a global event celebrating the benefits and success of school milk programs, world-leading food processing and packaging solutions company, Tetra Pak, draws attention to the role of multi-stakeholder collaborations to sustainably address childhood nutrition by making fresh milk safe and accessible for everyone.

In the Philippines, Republic Act 11037 also known as an Act Institutionalizing a National Feeding Program for Undernourished Children in Public Day Care was a breakthrough development that mothered the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) of the Department of Education.

For the 2020-2021 School Year, it surpassed the target of providing nutritious food products and pasteurized or sterilized milk to 1.7 million beneficiaries from primary public school students in daycare, kindergarten, and elementary schools across the country. Despite the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, DepEd SBFP recorded an achievement rate of 183.46% for the milk component and  198.15% for the Nutritious Food Products (NFP) component for the 2020-2021 School Year.  

As the SBFP aims to reach more schoolchildren and communities, RFM Corporation, a home-grown food and beverage leader, highlights the advantages of using UHT milk or milk that went through Ultra High-Temperature pasteurization, thus is safer and has a longer shelf life. This is an important feature considering infrastructure challenges and the lack of refrigeration to distribute the milk in far-flung areas.

Tetra Pak has been helping RFM Corporation deliver Selecta Kids Fortified Milk in Tetra Wedge® Aseptic 200ml Slim, a carton package that protects both the nutritional value and the taste of the milk for up to 12 months. Introduced in 2021, so that children in various parts of the country could have access to safe nutrition, Tetra Wedge® Aseptic Slim uses aseptic technology to ensure that the packaging materials and product inside it are free from harmful bacteria. Like all Tetra Pak carton packages, it’s made of renewable materials and recyclable paperboard, making it one of the best ways to feed the future sustainably.

According to Ms. Marie Concepcion-Young, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Group of RFM Corporation, “Milk help school kids reach their physical and cognitive potential. Aside from making it accessible, it is imperative that the milk stays fresh and safe even as we transport it to hard-to-reach areas or those with limited storage facilities.” 

During the first phase of SBFP Milk Component, Selecta Kids Fortified Milk in Tetra Wedge® Aseptic 200ml Slim was delivered to schools in Bicol, Davao, and Soccsksargen regions benefitting 359,557 school children. Tetra Pak together with Tetra Laval Food for Development is likewise providing practical support where they share best practices in school milk programs organization and implementation, as well as providing environmental education.

“For decades, we have been working with our customers and relevant stakeholders to support school feeding programs around the world because we believe these are effective in addressing poor health and nutrition in disadvantaged communities,” said Michael Wu, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia.

He adds that “We are committed to making food safe and available, everywhere.  That is why we make sure that school children get all the goodness of milk to have the energy to stay in school and get that brain boost they need for learning.”

Tetra Pak believes that attaining a sustainable future is anchored on initiatives protecting people and the planet. That is why alongside its efforts in ensuring safe nutrition for children, Tetra Pak is also helping promote sustainability in various communities by providing recycling training for teachers and students.

“Whether it is addressing food availability or environmental concerns, we believe that real, lasting impact in society can be achieved if stakeholders work together,” Wu concludes.

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The Bellevue Resort leads international coastal cleanup #SeaTheChange in Bohol

The Bellevue Resort – Bohol is a two-time ASEAN Green Hotel awardee, proudly a leader for sustainability.

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More than half a thousand volunteers from local organizations and private sectors, including frontliners, professionals, employees, students, divers, and many more gathered together to collect and segregate an estimated 1,713 kg of non-biodegradable waste at the recently concluded 37th International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) day hosted by The Bellevue Resort in Doljo Beach, Panglao, Bohol.

The Bellevue Resort – Bohol is a two-time ASEAN Green Hotel awardee, proudly a leader for sustainability. This eco-friendly five-star hotel has consistently spearheaded meaningful initiatives for responsible tourism in Bohol since its opening in 2012. Today the resort continues to head and take part in various efforts to promote environmental protection and conservation in the Philippines.

To know more about the resort, visit www.thebellevuebohol.com.

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5 Affordable and simple ways everyone can be an eco warrior

Understanding that collective effort is the way to go, retail giant SM Supermalls is committed to helping all Filipinos make more environmentally friendly choices in every aspect of their life.

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From changing weather patterns to disease outbreaks, we are already feeling the effects of global warming. We need to act now and work together in protecting the planet.

Understanding that collective effort is the way to go, retail giant SM Supermalls is committed to helping all Filipinos make more environmentally friendly choices in every aspect of their life.

“Many people care about the planet but find it hard to create a green lifestyle because of limited time or budget. That’s why we have community programs that make it more convenient and affordable to be an eco-warrior,” says Jonjon San Agustin, SVP for Marketing, SM Supermalls.

Here are five easy ways on how you and your family can live greener.

Segregate your trash and Trash to Cash

Segregating your biodegradable and recyclable waste reduces the amount of trash that goes into landfills. Have separate containers for different kinds of trash: biodegradable for food and garden waste; recyclable for plastic, paper, and metal waste; residual waste for trash that can’t be recycled including used tissue or paper plates; electronic waste for old batteries or broken gadget which shouldn’t be mixed with other waste because they contain metals that can contaminate the soil.

You can bring your recyclable waste to SM Supermalls’ Trash to Cash Recycling Market, held 10 am to 2 pm on every first Friday and Saturday of the Month. Visit this link to find the kiosk locations near you.

Limit the use of plastic through Plastic Waste Collection

Did you know that it takes plastic over 1,000 years to decompose?

About 10% of plastic materials will end up in the ocean and can kill marine life. In the Philippines, plastic waste often congests sewage systems causing floods. You can avoid using single use plastic by bringing your own reusable containers or eco bags when going to the groceries.

You can also buy items in eco-friendly packaging.

Plastic cutlery and straws are optional during order delivery or takeout. For dine-in, you can have your own eco-kit which has a drinking bottle, a set of utensils, and a foldable eco bag. Go green anytime and anywhere!

You can also recycle your plastic waste through SM Supermalls’ Plastic Waste Collection programs. Make it a fun weekend and volunteer for SM by the Bay and SM Mall of Asia’s regular ocean clean-up drives.

Plant a garden

Plants help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air. If you don’t have a large yard for a garden, you can still get houseplants! There are many creative and beautiful ways to add more plants to a small home like using a backless bookshelf or installing vertical gardens.

Get plants, tools, and expert tips on how to take care of your home garden at SM Mall. You can also find beautiful containers like terrariums and plant hangers that are made by Filipino SMEs.

Buy eco-friendly products

Choose more environmentally friendly products to gradually create a sustainable lifestyle.

Environmentally friendly products can be reusable or biodegradable. They are usually made from sustainable materials with eco-friendly packaging. They also produced less toxic waste during manufacturing and after disposal.

You can find thousands of eco-friendly products within SM malls through the recently launched Green Finds pop-up stores. The selection of products can help go green in every aspect of your life.

Reuse as much as you can

Before you throw anything away, consider if the item can be either upcycled into something useful, or donated to someone who needs it. SM holds regular toy and book drives, where you can even get discount vouchers to use in the store.

Join the Green Movement

The SM Green Movement is a collective effort of SM, its customers, communities, and partners to promote green living, green culture and a green planet. For more information, visit this website.

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