The impact of trauma on refugee children is sometimes overlooked due to a perception that they are too young to understand and bringing those topics up in a discussion may do more harm than good. We are seeing a lot of refugees and unfortunately, many of them have endured traumatic experiences that have impacted their children. Some children are highly resilient and seem to bounce back almost effortlessly, however, this can be an act sometimes in order to make their parents proud such as a young boy trying to prove his “manhood” and they are often not able to comprehend and articulate emotions as well as adults.
As a resident of the southeast region of the United States, hurricanes are almost an annual event and some people have hurricane parties. I am not making this up, some people legitimately have parties before a hurricane hits. That being said, they are destructive and can hurt the mind as much as they hurt a house.
The news stations are showing image after image of destroyed homes and swaying trees; the physical devastation Hurricane Irma brought to Puerto Rico has been displayed to the world.
What do drugs, exercise, deep breathing, overeating, journaling and chocolate cake all have in common?
These are all examples of coping skills, albeit they are not all healthy coping skills (I do not condone some of those), but none the less they are all utilized by people as coping skills. What are coping skills you may be thinking, I am glad you asked!
A coworker at a behavioral health hospital once told me the difference between us (the staff) and the patients was one critical element, our coping skills.
A coping skill is essentially a method an individual employs to affectively minimize, control and handle stressful situations (or triggers, see more information on those here). You utilize coping skills without even realizing it, but to truly hone in on our coping skills enables us to have strategies to control our behavioral and psychological reactions to events. As my Mother likes to say, “it is not what happens to you that matters, it is how you react to it”.
Social media comments and memes criticize and ridicule others by saying “triggered” and laugh it off as emotional weakness. This word has become a meme in itself and is often said with a tone of sarcasm. Yet, the concept of psychological triggers is not only very real; it is an integral part of treatment plans and recovery. As a patient, one is often asked to identify their triggers and their coping skills. As a provider, one can better assess why a patient reacts the way they do by isolating their triggers.