In a world where we are constantly connected, news of the world’s conflicts reaches us in real-time. Children grow up hearing about wars and the ways that violence impacts their communities. As a result, many are given unrealistic expectations about what kind of person they should be. This article explains the impact childhood experiences have on our behavior as adults and offers some helpful tips for helping our kids mitigate the damage.
What does childhood trauma have to do with adulthood behavior?
Some research suggests that witnessing violence as a child can have a long-term effect on adult behavior. This study looked at how people who experienced trauma as children experienced different patterns of reactivity to stress as they age into adulthood. Other research shows that exposure to chronic stress as a child can cause increased reactivity in adults, which may be followed by negative feedback and feelings of shame and guilt. This can make people more likely to engage in addictive behaviors, including substance use.
How to help your kids mitigate the damage from childhood trauma after a war
It is important to realize that childhood trauma isn’t just a thing of the past. Many of the effects of trauma are felt long-term and can have effects on adult health and well-being. Parents and caregivers can minimize the long-term damage from childhood trauma by helping children process their experiences and reduce their risk of negative adult outcomes.
The situation of children in the Gaza Strip
In the summer of 2014, Israel and the Palestinian territories were hit by a wave of unrest and attacks in which over 100 people were killed. During this time, the Israeli military conducted airstrikes and ground invasions in the Gaza Strip, targeting suspected militant and civilian targets. These attacks were widely condemned by world leaders and human rights organizations. This situation led to what is known as a “code red” alert, during which the alert status for the city of Gaza was raised to the maximum possible level. As a result, children in the Gaza Strip were exposed to an intense level of danger. According to one study, 60% of the children surveyed said they experienced at least one incident of violence during the operation. Parents and caregivers can help protect children from the harmful effects of trauma by providing safety planning and engaging in empathic listening while avoiding engaging in “crying over spilled milk” behavior.
Wrapping up – How to help organizations working with children
There are many organizations working with kids around the world. These organizations can provide support and services that help children process and understand what happened to them during the war, as well as deliver the supplies people donate to Gaza. These organizations can also provide training on cultural competency, child development, and effective communication for caregivers.
How to deal with this situation?
To help mitigate the long-term effects of childhood trauma, it is important to build resilience in children through supportive organizations and medical institutions such as the Islamic Medical Association. Resilience is a positive trait that can improve adult health and well-being. This means that resilience can be developed through practice, as opposed to being fixed at a certain age. There are many activities that children can engage in that can promote resilience, such as expressing emotions, sharing experiences, handling stress, and managing behavior.
Where do I go from here?
Parents and caregivers can implement the following tips to help mitigate the long-term effects of childhood trauma after a war:
- Help your kids process their experiences: this can be simply talking or writing, or helping them find a support network.
- Be ready to answer questions about what happened in the war: be open-minded, and remember that your kids may be dealing with a lot of emotions as well.
- Engage in empathic listening, while avoiding “crying over spilled milk”: this means not being critical or offering solutions, but rather offering to understand and listen.
- Have healthy self-esteem and recognize your strengths.
- Try to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, get enough exercise, and drink plenty of water.
- Pay attention to your emotional health and use healthy habits to prevent or reduce stress.
- Highlight the positive aspects of your kids’ lives.
- Create a safe space for kids to be kids.
- And most importantly, be there for your kids when they need you.
It does not matter that you cannot perform all the actions mentioned in the article. The important thing is that you know that with at least 1 you can change the lives of many children and guarantee them a better future.