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Coming Out of Lockdown – Post Traumatic Growth

There has been much discussion around the likelihood of people experiencing post-traumatic stress following the impact that coronavirus has had on us all. No-one in the UK has been able to escape the reality of Covid-19 and it will have affected everyone in some way, shape or form.

However, whilst acknowledging that post-traumatic stress will certainly be the case for some, we are learning more about the growth and resilience that has come out of this time too.

For many, it’s been an opportunity to hit the ‘reset’ button and to just stop and take stock of where they are at. We have learnt new ways of doing things and adapted in ways we perhaps wouldn’t have thought possible.

There’s been opportunity to do things differently and although this may have initially taken us out of our comfort zone, it’s fair to say that for some people, they’ve not only adapted but actually found they prefer the new way of doing things and come out better for it.

As we now see the phased return roll out across all schools and education settings throughout the UK, we keep learning more about the concept of ‘post traumatic growth’ amongst children and young people.

So what do we mean by post-traumatic growth?

 

After experiencing a traumatic event, people often report three ways in which their psychological functioning increases:

  1. Relationships are enhanced in some way. For example, people describe that they come to value their friends and family more, feel an increased sense of compassion for others and a longing for more intimate relationships.

  1. People change their views of themselves. For example, developing in wisdom, personal strength and gratitude, perhaps coupled with a greater acceptance of their vulnerabilities and limitations.

  1. People describe changes in their life philosophy. For example, finding a fresh appreciation for each new day and re-evaluating their understanding of what really matters in life, becoming less materialistic and more able to live in the present.

Below are some responses from children across the 4 nations when asked about their experience during lockdown:

As we can see, there have been positives as well as negatives for children during the pandemic, and it’s important to recognise this and reflect these back to children. Many children have discovered personal strengths they didn’t realise they had, because perhaps they didn’t have a need to explore or discover them before. Children have reported learning new skills and experiences such as learning how to bake, cooking, sewing, gardening, walking, being in the outdoors and having a greater appreciation for nature etc.

There have been many acts of kindness, love and care during this time that we have observed where people have been much more thoughtful and considerate towards others. Some children have shared that their ‘lockdown birthday’ was their best birthday yet because of all the thought that went into making it special and their friends who really made the effort.

Families have shared about how nice it’s been getting ‘back to basics’ by sitting down to have meals together, having family games nights or movie nights and spending more time together in general.

Older children have talked about how it’s felt like being a child again as they were always out pre-lockdown with friends. Many have had a greater appreciation for family and loved ones and been more intentional about maintaining friendships and relationships through social media.

A young person, aged 14, shared about her friendships during lockdown:

“We do talk a lot though over social media – Instagram, Snapchat. It’s brought us together in that way”.

It’s good to appreciate the balance, and what we are seeing more of is that ‘post-traumatic growth’ that has occurred despite the difficulties Covid-19 has brought. It’s led to greater resilience in children and young people that they will surely build upon as they navigate their way through childhood and into adult life.

References:

Post Traumatic Growth –

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-25/edition-11/what-doesnt-kill-us

Quotes in Speech Bubbles and Young Person (14) Comment –

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/mar/07/the-lockdown-generation-16-young-people-on-spending-a-year-at-home

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