I want to take a few minutes to highlight an interesting video I came across this week. It was posted by PBS NewsHour on March 3, 2014. It talks about PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and children who experience it as a result of “life outside their school,” living in poverty which causes chronic stress. People often associate PTSD with combat, but many people develop PTSD through other traumatic experiences without any link to war. It is “estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, with women (10.4%) twice as likely as men (5%) to develop PTSD” (Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 2007).
In the video, professionals talk about the choric stress children experience due to living in poverty and experiencing homelessness, leading to PTSD. Brain scans showed images revealing how the chronic stress can lead to PTSD, affecting cognitive learning and behavioral disturbances.
Teachers featured in the video not only teach traditional school subjects but also talk to students about emotions, real-world experiences, and ways to combat the chronic stress. Teaching mindfulness and yoga poses to release this stress is part of their daily routine to equip students with tools they need not only to excel academically, but to survive the harsh environment right outside their school yard. One teacher was shown saying,
“I want you to notice inward what you’re feeling, so an emotion.”
As a child specialist, I feel strongly about this kind of learning in schools and I feel it is paramount if we want our children to be set up for success, to live healthy lives as helpful, empathetic, and fully functioning adults. In my therapy room, I often work with children to help them recognize and understand their emotions for their own self growth. I believe this is the foundation for empathy building and helping children to help others.
All children (and adults!), no matter their life experience, benefit from learning about emotions, mindfulness, and stress relief. If you our your child would like to develop skills in these areas, please feel free to contact myself, Dr. Laura Lauko, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 590-9522 ex. 5 to talk more about this topic.
Contact information and biography for Dr. Lauko can be found on our “About Us-Our Clinicians” page.