Adversity strengthens with life coping skills

Adversity challenges us with difficulties and misfortune. Knowledge and wisdom come to us through our troubles. Everyone has issues to deal with at one time or another. It is part of the human condition, the positive and negative things that happen in our lives.

Children are affected by the events that take place around them, major life-changing events arising from abuse and neglect, divorce, domestic violence, mental illness, poverty and substance abuse. According to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, “adverse childhood experiences” (ACEs) affect nearly 50 percent of American children and one in five face at least two of them. These ACEs have impact on how a child grows, achieves, and believes about the world around them. Left unaddressed the effects can stay with them into adulthood and throughout their lives.

But the mind of a child is resilient. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from adverse experiences. With the right life coping skills children come to understand how to come to terms with “big feelings” like anger, anxiety and sadness in positive ways.

At NPR.org, there is a story you may find interesting, “For traumatized children, an offer of help from the Muppets.” The folks at Sesame Street have developed a program which teaches children how to cope with trauma: Big Bird in his cozy nest, Sophia and Alan explaining that it’s all right to safely let out your feelings and Rosita dealing with her anger, to mention a few.

When a child is afraid, can’t sleep and doesn’t trust anyone, they need a safe and predictable environment where everything is as close to normal as possible so they can get back on their emotional feet and recover quickly from the adversities around them.

There is a video that comes to mind that reinforces all of this. You might want to review it. On the Internet search for “ReMoved video.” It is about a girl traumatized by domestic violence in the family’s home.

Traumatic events in our lives make us feel insecure and at risk of danger, affecting each of us differently, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It is important to remember that ” a child’s reaction to trauma is strongly influenced by adult responses to that incident. Also bear in mind that “people from different cultures may have their own ways of reacting to trauma.”

“Helping Children and Adolescents Cope With Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do” can be found at nimh.nih.gov. There is a lengthy list of reactions children and adolescents may show that will help parents and guardians to recognize that a child needs your help to cope. They look to the adults in their lives that they can – or should – be able to trust to see how situations should be handled. They need Mom or Dad, a grandparent or other close caregiver to explain what happened in terms they can understand. They need to know you love them, that what happened is NOT their fault, to assure them that you will do your best to take care of them and it’s OK to talk about how they feel with you.

Let them cry and be sad. Encourage them to tell you how they feel. Make a goal of keeping to routine. Most children, says NIMH, recover within a few weeks. Some need help from a mental health professional to work on grief, depression, anxiety or PTSD.

Domestic terrorism, sex trafficking, cyber bullying are some of our modern day threats. Social discord (if you spend any time on social media you understand this) creates tension and hostility with differences of opinion and division between groups of people, advises The National Child Traumatic Stress Network which works to “raise awareness of the impact of these threats on society’s mental health with the ultimate goal of promoting and cultivating individual, family and community resilience.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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