We have been so engrossed in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that we have tended to overlook PTGS (Post Traumatic Growth Syndrome). Well that’s just my term, but as the gossip said, “I made it up, it must be correct.”
Anyway, the Wall Street Journal reports research that show that children as young as 7 can recognise positive as well as negative feelings about a traumatic event. It might take a few years but children can begin to show signs of increased empathy and creativity related to the traumatic experience. The key seems to be in letting, even encouraging, the children to talk and enact their feelings (be safe), and work through the ‘why’, and sooner or later they will bring to the issue a different perspective. Where many people are effected, practical group rebuilding activities also help.
We can never know when a traumatic experience will beset ourselves or our children. So perhaps it is best to be prepared. How do we prepare a child for the death of a parent, the loss of a home? Baha’u’llah instructed Baha’is to teach their children to pray from the first moment and to instill into them teachings that will ameliorate fear. Preparation for trauma can be generalised such as learning, “O SON OF MAN! For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.” (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words); “O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.” (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words); “O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more.” (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)