Children may be processing the disruptions in their lives right now in ways the adults around them do not expect: acting out, regressing, retreating or even seeming surprisingly content. Parents need to know that all of this is normal, experts say, and there are some things we can do to help.
“Our natural response to scary things is biologically to release stress hormones,” said Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and surgeon general of the state of California, and the author of “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity.” The release of stress hormones activates our fight or flight response. Our bodies, in responding with the release of stress hormones, are doing exactly what they should be doing.
But in some cases, exposure to stressful events — which right now might include the absence of routines, a parent’s job loss and economic hardship, or the serious illness or death of someone a child cares about — can leave children feeling traumatized.