How Resilient Are Children Really?

When a crisis or traumatic situation occurs we often hear people say something like “he/she will be fine. Children are very resilient. They will pull through it.”

Yes children and young people will “pull through” it but at what cost? At what cost to themselves? At what cost to society?

Let’s consider for a moment an adult experiencing a similar or the same traumatic experience, e.g. bereavement or marriage break up. How would the adult react to the situation?

They may have experiences such as:

  • Numbness
  • Being or feeling dumbfounded
  • Feeling isolated
  • Become angry
  • Become aggressive
  • Sullen
  • Lash out at others
  • Become excessively busy in an attempt to block the memories of the trauma/crisis
  • Talk excessively
  • Blame themselves for what happened
  • Blame others for what happened
  • Take on self destructive behaviours to cope with the situation (e.g. drugs, alcohol, self harm, abusing others etc)
  • Being Fearful
  • Begin to experience panic attacks
  • Become tearful
  • Take time off work
  • Ask for compassionate leave
  • Get depressed

Children are Humans too!

This list is only a minor sample of some possible ways that ADULTS react and
cope with a crisis or traumatic situation. Given that children and young people are Humans too, aren’t they? Why then do so many adults think that children will be ok by simply leaving them to get over it by themselves? That their resilience will make it all ok?

Children and young people experience the same emotions that adults do when faced with trauma, except in some cases their emotions are camouflaged by “childish” behaviour because ……….they are children!

This does not mean that the underlying emotions that have driven them to behave in these “childish” ways have disappeared. This is their way of dealing with the trauma; they simply act out.


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