Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

July 3, 2011

Tire Pressure Gauge – Tools for Stress Relief

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 2:41 pm
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              If you want your car to get good mileage and handle well, you probably check the tire  pressure regularly with an inexpensive and handy tool, a tire pressure  gauge.  We keep ours in the glove  compartment, where I routinely mistake it for a ball point pen.  In these hectic days, I find myself wishing I  had a way to track and release any built up pressure in the children and adults  in my work and my life.

A tire pressure  gauge is a hollow tube with a small piston inside it.  A spring runs between the piston and a stop  at the other end, pressing the piston toward the left side of the tube.  When pressurized air from the tire rushes  into the ball shaped end of the tube, it pushes the piston towards the
right.  Since a ruler of sorts is  attached to the piston, you can “read” how much pressure the air in the tire  exerted.
We  have much less accurate indicators of pressure available when assessing  people.  For very young children, often  basic biology can tell us whether stress or pressure has been experienced.  Infants and toddlers under stress, have  eating and sleeping difficulties.  While  we never really outgrow the physical impact stress has on us, older children  and adults can have more complex responses.   Stressed children can be as cranky as babies, but they can also become  more silent and withdrawn, aggressive, stubborn, or worried.

For  tires, too little air pressure is as problematic as too much.  Thankfully, tires come with manufacturers’  guidelines clarifying how much pressure is ideal.   Children also benefit from some level of  stress and pressure – the pressure of wanting to hit the home run, do a great  presentation for the class, approach a new friend and ask to play.  Pressure can motivate and push us to try new  things and do our best.  Unfortunately  for parents and educators, no manual specifies just how much pressure is ideal  for optimum performance for any child.  Without such a guide, or handy pressure gauge, adults can only help  children operate in ideal “pressure” ranges if they take the time to know the  children well, so they can learn and read their subtle stress signs.

Our newer car has  a built in indicator of tire pressure problems – we still have to fix any  problems, but the tires measure themselves regularly.  An amazing tool adults can give to children  is the ability to regulate their own stress levels. The first step, however, is  developing their personal pressure gauge.  For some children, this will involve becoming aware of their mood, for  others, tracking their sleep and eating.   Maybe noticing which music they are listening to on their I-Pod will  clue them to their high stress levels.  Children’s  stress monitors will never be as simple or elegant a tool as the tire pressure  gauge I keep in my glove compartment, and they will not be as wonderfully  accurate.  Children are infinitely more complex  and  amazing than cars.  But every time we  help them understand their inner workings, and move them on the path to learning to manage their emotions and needs, we give them the most valuable  tool for life’s toolbox.

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