Exposure to continuous trauma causes the body’s alarm system to be easily triggered, releasing stress hormones that interfere with reasoning and activate that flight, fight, or freeze response. Children cannot learn or get along with friends or family members when living in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze. Rather, their goal is to survive.
He was six and it was his unexpected, quiet remark that clearly described the struggle, “I just feel like something bad is going to happen all the time.” For this boy, like many others, childhood included too many scary life experiences. He was well prepared to respond to danger at any time – he knew it well.
Recently, I had a friend call and ask if I could help a co-worker who was struggling with his 15-year-old daughter. Of course, as someone in the mental health industry, I automatically said yes. Not knowing what was going to be asked of me, I called this father who was looking for advice and my heart sank as I listened to him talk.
Our CEO was leading a Zoom meeting the other day, the beginning of a series of meetings on a topic of great importance, but not urgency. Conceivably, this series of meetings could put our agency on a very strong course over a multi-year span; no one would deny its importance. Yet, many of us were not completely present.
COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down. We’ve had to adjust our approach to nearly every part of our lives, from how we get groceries to how we work and spend our free time. One thing is true – we’re stressed.
As a parent, one of the most important things you can do is to help your child learn to deal with the inevitable challenges that life brings. Children who can successfully manage the stressors that come into their life have lower rates of mental health issues, greater levels of happiness, and often have more success later in life.