"Loved children are more resilient"

The eruption of the Cumbre Vieja, in La Palma, was terminated on Christmas Day after 85 days of activity. The volcano left a trail of destruction and a lot anxiety and stress in the population. CaixaProinfanciaof the 'la Caixa' Foundationhas promoted a project of resilience promotion for the boys and girls from the Canary Island. The materials, aimed at both minors and their families and teachers, have been prepared by Jorge Barudyneuropsychiatrist, child psychiatrist, family therapist and trauma history expert, and his wife, the psychotherapist Maryorie Dantagnan.

Is the stress generated by a natural disaster comparable to other traumatic situations?

The impact always depends on the cause. The big difference occurs when it is human beings who cause harm to other human beings. Those are traumatic atrocities. The biggest is when parents mistreat their sons or daughters or sexually abuse them. That is the most morbid. Then we have the accidents, where other human beings intervene, but there is no intentionality. And then there are natural disasters. In addition, the impact depends a lot on the possibility of explanation, of meaning. Human beings need to find meaning in what happens to them. That is why it is so important to explain to children, to give as much information as possible so that they understand.

How can some fathers and mothers who lived the same as these children help them?

That is why the program always has three pillars: children, parents and professionals. Both of them have the right to be affected, they are not invulnerable. Mothers, and surely many fathers as well, have the ability to self-regulate according to the needs of their children. We have observed this ability of women, of mothers, to postpone even their own suffering and fears in order to contain children in interventions in terrible situations, such as cases of genocide. What admirable mothers!

We are not born resilient. How do we learn?

Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity. And it is a multicausal phenomenon. There is primary resilience, the one that gives you the fact of having had a healthy life from conception and affection, feeling loved, but what is interesting is to consider resilience as a social production, the result of the intervention of another or a group that is capable of creating a social dynamic to support the population. Resilience is solidarity and solidarity has therapeutic value. It is also important that children recognize that everything they feel is legitimate in relation to the context, that it is not pathological or abnormal. And that is why leisure and activities are important so that the child can express himself. Oh, and let's not forget humor, to be able to precisely stimulate the brain, produce neurotransmitters that increase hope, mood.

From resilient parents, resilient children?

I think so. Resilient parents generally treat their children well. Through affection, respect and care they facilitate the resilience of their children.

Are today's children, generally hyperprotected, less resilient?

We live in a time of dominance of the market model. And the success of this model has to do with consumption and what guarantees consumption is individualism. This means that there is a risk that boys and girls have fewer resilient resources because they are often very alone. A tablet or a mobile does not give you the ability to face adversity, on the contrary, they alienate you. This model creates a kind of fiction, life becomes a story, a narrative that does not correspond to reality.

Children have also suffered theirs with the pandemic. Will we have more resilient children after this?

The traumatic impact of the pandemic depends on how the children were before. Loved children, cared for children, are more protected from impact. But the most important thing is how adults have handled this pandemic, and it hasn't set a good example for child resilience, it's created a lot of confusion. In order to develop their resilient resources, children need to have confidence in the adult world, to see that it is consistent, that it acts with the common good in mind.

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