There seems to be a disturbing trend in society that contradicts the norms and values of children and the public in general.
Five months ago, an article for Engine House 87 noted that truth and the humanization of society were no longer considered a virtue. We have become a society where reported news goes beyond being managed to fit a viewpoint to opinions that defy logic and critical thinking. A society where masks reduce identification and expression. A society where typical human interaction has become a socially distanced robotic process.
Along with the sanitation of our physical environment, our emotional climate is changing as well. As an adult, we rationalize the events and demands being put upon us by these changes. However, children have not developed their coping skills to the same level. Children must “survive,” relying on limited knowledge and experiences.
It is human nature to adapt to survive. Children cope with trauma by developing coping mechanisms with the limited knowledge and tools they have at a particular time. Mystery and lack of knowledge lead to uncertainty, and uncertainty causes the creation of coping mechanisms that may prove to be less than useful as they grow into adulthood. These skills may even prove to be counter-productive.
Children often do not act out the internal anxieties they are feeling during traumatic events. Not being able to interact with other children naturally is a traumatic event. There is a need for emotional first aid. It is incumbent upon adults to help children fill in the pieces and gain the essential knowledge tools to build healthy survival techniques to cope with their fears and anxieties.
Providing emotional first aid for children involves four elements.
A problem must be acknowledged to establish an emotional first aid environment. A flood, a tornado, hurricane, or significant wildfire presents a physical reality. The pandemic fallout is a silent, invisible reality.
Becoming familiar with the details of the situation is paramount. Globally what is being accomplished to mitigate the problem? What, as a family, can be achieved that will realistically minimize the negatives? A primary foundation of Emotional First Aid is knowledge. What has happened, what is going to happen? And the most challenging question associated with any trauma is why, why is there so much controversy?
Seek out positive reinforcements. What are the positives presented, even if relatively minor? Trends are trending downward, things are, hinting at returning to normal. It appears that school will probably open in the not too distant future, or not. Why were they closed in the first place?
Embracing humor goes a long way is calming a youngster’s fears. Humor is the best emotional first aid for mass trauma. The totality of the situation is not humorous by any stretch of the imagination but provided the opportunity to enjoy any positive or entertaining contributions; laughter is good medicine.
Please help us revise our “What to Say… What to Do” training material to reflect the need to help children deal with society’s sanitation aftermath. Click here to donate.