The Fourth “F” of Trauma
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
When I work with traumatized people, I always keep in mind that they have one of three reactions: Fight, Flight and Freeze. These are primal brain mechanisms that manage threats to the self. Each type of reaction has its intervention but at the core of these interventions is the fourth “F”: Fusion.
Trauma disrupts relationships and self/other organization. At extreme levels it can cause dissociative disorders (what we used to call Multiple Personality Disorders) splitting off internal parts of the self in an effort to survive and function. At milder levels it can cause us to build defenses or social masks that allow us to get through our days despite feelings of pain or loss. Either we are not acting out of our true self. We also have difficulties with others manifesting by poor intimacy, commitment fears, unmanageable anger, feelings of anxiety and depression.
What we want to achieve is fusion. A fusion of self and personality and a fusion of relationships (self with other). This is easy said than done but it is possible. It is not hopeless as we once thought. The real challenge is trying to help others who are in a state of fight, flight or freeze without ourselves going into a similar state. Staying “fused” in our emotions, in the face trauma, is hard!
Helping Children Focus in School After Trauma…
When children experience trauma, it can be difficult to focus and stay engaged in the classroom. Fortunately, many social-emotional learning activities can help children develop the skills they need to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Here are 10 ways children can use social-emotional learning activities to help them focus in the classroom after experiencing trauma.
1. Positive Self-Talk: Positive self-talk can be a powerful tool for helping children to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice positive self-talk by repeating mantras and affirmations to themselves throughout the day. This will help them to stay positive and motivated, even when facing challenging tasks.
2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness activities can help children to stay in the present moment and pay attention to what is happening in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice mindfulness activities like deep breathing and body scans to help them stay focused and engaged.
3. Visualization: Visualization activities can help children to create positive images in their minds, which can help them stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice visualization activities, such as imagining a peaceful place or positive future, to help them stay on task.
4. Social Skills: Social skills can help children stay engaged in the classroom and positively interact with their peers. Encourage your child to practice social skills, such as active listening, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
5. Emotional Regulation: Emotional regulation activities can help children to manage their emotions and stay focused in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice emotional regulation activities like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and positive self-talk.
6. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness activities can help children to understand their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Encourage your child to practice self-awareness activities such as journaling, reflecting on their experiences, and talking to a trusted adult.
7. Goal Setting: Goal-setting activities can help children to stay focused and motivated in the classroom. Encourage your child to set short-term goals that are achievable and to create a plan for how to reach those goals.
8. Problem-Solving: Problem-solving activities can help children to think flexibly and stay focused in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice problem-solving activities, such as brainstorming, making lists, and breaking down tasks into smaller steps.
9. Self-Care: Self-care activities can help children to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and engaging in physical activity.
10. Connecting With Others: Connecting with others can help children to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to connect with peers by talking to them, listening to their stories, and engaging in conversations.
Ron Huxley can help your and your child focus and learn after dealing with stress and trauma. Ron Huxley is a licensed therapist specializing in anxiety and trauma. Contact him today!