Blog & App: Human Improvement Project

The Human Improvement Project is a nonprofit out of Colorado. They are entirely privately funded and they have worked with hundreds of doctors, child psychologists, neuroscientists, to create their content.

According to their website: “The Happy Child” and “In Love While Parenting” are the top parenting apps in the world.

They do a good job of breaking down the chemical components of happiness and well-being. I also commend them for speaking plainly about the effects of parenting styles on a child’s mental health. Particularly here regarding cortisol.

High cortisol in a child comes from being nervous that something emotionally upsetting may happen at any moment. This may be hard to accept, but high cortisol in children is usually caused by their parents. They tease them, thinking it’s all in good fun, or accidentally compare them to other kids. We suddenly get angry at them or others and this keeps them on edge. Even if you think you rarely do this, it’s not the actual act that causes the higher cortisol, it’s being nervous that it could happen. This means your child could have high cortisol without you even knowing it.

High cortisol is something many kids have, even those that may show no outward problems now. It is a silent problem where the effects are often not manifested until months or sometimes years later. You might be worried that someone will criticize us, or say something sarcastic, look down on us, or assume we have a poor character trait such as laziness or lack of intelligence. Even if one of those emotional ambushes doesn’t actually occur, the constant release of cortisol while in a state of high alert is damaging to our long-term wellbeing.

Hundreds of studies have been done on children’s cortisol levels, and researchers conclude that those with consistently high cortisol levels are far more likely to have substance abuse problems, commit crimes, make poor life choices, and have less happy lives.A study published in the journal “Child Development” even found that children with elevated cortisol levels are more likely to experience learning deficits and cognitive delays.

High cortisol is like smoking. It won’t hurt us the first time or even after a few months, but over the long-term it does significantly decrease our wellbeing. We’re not only more likely to make poor choices, we’re also more likely to be depressed, anxious, angry, or easily triggered. Thankfully, parents who learn about high cortisol and start watching for it, can reduce it dramatically, and even reverse its negative effects. Other videos will teach us the top ways science has found to notice and reduce high cortisol in our homes, and walk us through easy exercises and daily motivational tips that can turn your home into an emotional-safe haven.

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