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How faith helps children respond to cyber stress

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Dr. Shadi Jani is the Vice President of Operations for B.R.A.V.E. Society, a peer abuse prevention organization in Carmichael. In a January 19th interview with Lisa Daggs, hostess of Recovery Talk on 103.9FM The Fish, Jani painted a beautiful portrait of balancing emotion with reason and faith in order to mange stress in a powerful way.

Without realizing our capacity to strike such a balance, our children are increasingly vulnerable to risks associated with addiction – because constant stress of cyber communications can become a trigger for depression, anxiety and eventually to cope in unhealthy ways, such as abuse of drugs and alcohol.

According to Janii, the stress response to events that threaten or disturb our peace produce a chemical reaction in the brain that is simply referred to as fight or flight. “When the stress response is triggered –like when a large dog charges at you when you are walking – a series of neurochemical reactions happens that makes our adrenals release large amounts of Adrenaline and Cortisol into our blood,” she said. “Once the threat has passed, hormone levels get back to normal and normal physiologic activity is restored. But when the stressor is constantly present, the fight or flight response stays turned on.”

And according to Jani, this results in a higher risk of developing anxiety and/or depression.

Why faith matters for the cyber-power kid

When asked what role God plays in responding to the stress conditions that are ever present (whether it be domestic violence, post traumatic stress, or cyber connectivity hyping untruth and discouragement), Jani offers a very eloquent explanation. "Believing something will happen always leaves room for doubt,” she said. “But believing something has already happened leaves no room for doubt.”

According to Jani, believing something has already happened, such as “I have already recovered from this trauma,” or “I have already recovered from this addiction” gives a clear vision of what the restored and functional state looks like. She stresses that our brain responds to visions and pictures, so focusing on the positive outcome to deliver you from the current stressful situation is strategic to getting there emotionally as well as spiritually and behaviorally.

Tips for parents to impart wisdom about faith:

  • Make a list of God’s promises to restore and heal that have meaning for you
  • Talk to your child about the practical ways in which your faith has helped you in your life
  • Encourage your child to think for themselves (not just accept what other people and websites tell them)
  • Ask your child to share some examples of things that cause them stress or make them sad or disappointed
  • Take this opportunity to share how your beliefs and values helped you in such challenging or stressful times

Parent Resources

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