By Cary Anne Fitzgerald. PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator
When stress occurs, we know we react to these messages our brains supply…now the brain is great but it simply cannot discern between a full-on attack of some sort and the tone of a text received. It cannot tell us if the information is positive or negative – think excitement over a party versus a test in class. So, it does what the brain will do- protect. Messages flow throughout our bodies, activating different functions. We often know these – I feel tense, my stomach hurts, I am chronically stressed and so I suffer from…. But do we realize what happens to our brain? The alert has sounded, the ability to reason has gone and our instinct to fight or flight arises. We tune out when in stress or we turn up. This may very well illustrate daily communication in our homes during this crisis. Our brains are in survival mode potentially on a 24/7 basis now.
Regardless of what stage our children are at, we can influence our child’s brains very positively. In a recent training, an instructor offered the concept of “mirrored neurons”. From very young ages, our children replicate what they see – positive and negative. Children learn to model things the adult does. In a classroom setting, I would often talk out steps of a lesson or strategy as if I were student. While it would seem redundant to some, for these children it became learning. As they grow, we often give them a laundry list of do’s and don’ts but are we abiding by these do’s or don’ts ourselves? “Do as I say not do as I do”. Many parents share that they are uncomfortable with “difficult” topics and as our children age, there is bound to be increasing conflict of some sort as it is part of the process.
Now, we are in a difficult phase of existence. How do we meet it? Remember what we can control in this time – our basic, healthful needs. How do we meet our children’s needs? Mirror those neurons. Who do you want to be in this challenging moment? It is who do you want your child to be. Be it, be patient, be gentle with yourself. They will follow your lead.