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GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE: Stress-Proof Your Child

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Stress is indeed a “tiger” in the lives of many children, a threatening presence that causes or exacerbates multiple pediatric health problems, interferes with mental discipline and concentration, and undercuts creativity and academic performance. But this tiger can be tamed – in effect, its “toe” can be “grabbed” and controlled – by those adults and childre ABOUT THE BOOK: Stress is indeed a “tiger” in the lives of many children, a threatening presence that causes or exacerbates multiple pediatric health problems, interferes with mental discipline and concentration, and undercuts creativity and academic performance. But this tiger can be tamed – in effect, its “toe” can be “grabbed” and controlled – by those adults and children in their care who learn and apply the practical strategies described so lucidly by Marilyn Wilcher and her colleagues. In GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE: STRESS-PROOF YOUR CHILD, Wilcher shows clearly: -How children from the pre-school through high school years can overcome the negative impact of stress on learning and creativity; -How children in this age range can guard against the harmful health effects of stress; and -How parents and teachers can help children manage stress. In many ways, GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE reaffirms a basic concept about health and well-being that Herbert Benson. M.D. – Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and author of the foreword for this book – has been advocating for more than four decades. Specifically, this approach can be summarized by the image of a three-legged stool. The first two legs of this stool focus on two traditional medical tools, drugs and surgery. But too often, the third leg of the stool – which encompasses self-care and self-empowerment strategies such as stress management, preventive medicine and performance enhancement – may be ignored. Although it has been established that 60-90 percent of all visits to physicians have a significant stress component, few physicians or patients understand the powerful stress management techniques that constitute the dominant factor in the third, self-care leg of healthcare. GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE highlights the importance of stress-reduction in enhancing the health and well-being of our children. In addition to impairing health, stress also plays a major role in limiting the ability of young people to learn effectively and perform at maximum levels in the classroom. In this book, Marilyn Wilcher refers to this problem by citing the Yerkes-Dodson Law, first formulated in 1908 by two Harvard scientists. According to that law, the stress that accompanies hard work always improves performance up to a certain point. But beyond that certain point, excessive stress begins to impede performance significantly. The best strategy to counter this excessive stress – and the cornerstone of the kind of self-care and self-empowerment described and advocated for young people in this book – involves eliciting the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response is an innate physiologic phenomenon that Dr. Benson identified more than forty years ago and popularized through his book The Relaxation Response. The relaxation response is the polar opposite of the stress – or “fight-or-flight” – response, which has been associated with anxiety, depression, pain and an array of cardiovascular problems and other diseases. But not until the publication of GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE has the exact link become clear between the relaxation response and the kind of stress management for children that can enhance their academic performance, not to mention their physical and emotional well-being. In fact, the principles and strategies that you will learn in this book have been formulated, tested and used successfully in real-school situations throughout the country by the Education Initiative of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital – where Dr. Benson is Director Emeritus and Marilyn Wilcher is Senior Director.


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ABOUT THE BOOK: Stress is indeed a “tiger” in the lives of many children, a threatening presence that causes or exacerbates multiple pediatric health problems, interferes with mental discipline and concentration, and undercuts creativity and academic performance. But this tiger can be tamed – in effect, its “toe” can be “grabbed” and controlled – by those adults and childre ABOUT THE BOOK: Stress is indeed a “tiger” in the lives of many children, a threatening presence that causes or exacerbates multiple pediatric health problems, interferes with mental discipline and concentration, and undercuts creativity and academic performance. But this tiger can be tamed – in effect, its “toe” can be “grabbed” and controlled – by those adults and children in their care who learn and apply the practical strategies described so lucidly by Marilyn Wilcher and her colleagues. In GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE: STRESS-PROOF YOUR CHILD, Wilcher shows clearly: -How children from the pre-school through high school years can overcome the negative impact of stress on learning and creativity; -How children in this age range can guard against the harmful health effects of stress; and -How parents and teachers can help children manage stress. In many ways, GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE reaffirms a basic concept about health and well-being that Herbert Benson. M.D. – Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and author of the foreword for this book – has been advocating for more than four decades. Specifically, this approach can be summarized by the image of a three-legged stool. The first two legs of this stool focus on two traditional medical tools, drugs and surgery. But too often, the third leg of the stool – which encompasses self-care and self-empowerment strategies such as stress management, preventive medicine and performance enhancement – may be ignored. Although it has been established that 60-90 percent of all visits to physicians have a significant stress component, few physicians or patients understand the powerful stress management techniques that constitute the dominant factor in the third, self-care leg of healthcare. GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE highlights the importance of stress-reduction in enhancing the health and well-being of our children. In addition to impairing health, stress also plays a major role in limiting the ability of young people to learn effectively and perform at maximum levels in the classroom. In this book, Marilyn Wilcher refers to this problem by citing the Yerkes-Dodson Law, first formulated in 1908 by two Harvard scientists. According to that law, the stress that accompanies hard work always improves performance up to a certain point. But beyond that certain point, excessive stress begins to impede performance significantly. The best strategy to counter this excessive stress – and the cornerstone of the kind of self-care and self-empowerment described and advocated for young people in this book – involves eliciting the “relaxation response.” The relaxation response is an innate physiologic phenomenon that Dr. Benson identified more than forty years ago and popularized through his book The Relaxation Response. The relaxation response is the polar opposite of the stress – or “fight-or-flight” – response, which has been associated with anxiety, depression, pain and an array of cardiovascular problems and other diseases. But not until the publication of GRAB A TIGER BY THE TOE has the exact link become clear between the relaxation response and the kind of stress management for children that can enhance their academic performance, not to mention their physical and emotional well-being. In fact, the principles and strategies that you will learn in this book have been formulated, tested and used successfully in real-school situations throughout the country by the Education Initiative of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital – where Dr. Benson is Director Emeritus and Marilyn Wilcher is Senior Director.

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