One of the best ways to protect children from adversity is for adults to learn their own coping skills. It’s something I repeatedly stress. Why? Because adults are the ones who hurt children.
Being around children is hard. Raising children is harder. Babies can’t do anything by themselves except cry, poop, and pee. For crying out loud, they need someone to help them burp and put them to sleep! Once they learn to crawl and walk they master some independence, but they have no filter, they can’t keep themselves safe, and the smart part of their brains isn’t developed enough for logic and reasoning, so they throw temper tantrums all the time. They get a little older and begin to learn cause & effect and consequences, but that darn pre-frontal cortex isn’t going to be completely developed until their late teens/early 20’s, so that self-control-logic-reasoning thing still is an issue.
And all of that is incredibly taxing. Even the most controlled of us will falter and lose our tempers at times. What matters is the frequency and intensity of our own outbursts. If you’re losing it more days than not, it’s time to take a break, learn some coping skills, and start practicing them daily. If the intensity level of your outbursts is high – screaming, hitting, pushing, kicking, name-calling, etc. – it’s time to take a take a break, learn some coping skills, and start practicing them daily.
Remember, childhood is one long internship for the job of being an adult. During this internship you, the adult, are the boss and teacher, and you adequately prepare the child for adulthood, the thought being that you were adequately prepared during your internship (childhood). However, we all know some supervisors and internship placements are not ideal, which leads some interns to be ill-prepared to enter the workforce. These interns will do poorly at work until they learn the skills they need to do better, or get fired. The same goes for children.
Childhood adversity costs the United States an estimated $150 billion dollars every year, which is money that could be put to good use elsewhere. So, pull it together. I know it can be hard, but our society is counting on adults to adequately prepare children for adulthood.
-Erica L. Daniels, LPCC-S
Pediatric Mental Health Counselor
Child Counseling Place