As a result of the pandemic, many students faced ACEs or additional trauma without school, the only safe place for some—a teacher’s commitment can help many students stay on track

How to overcome trauma through kindness

As a result of the pandemic, many students faced additional trauma without school, the only safe place for some—a teacher’s commitment can help many students stay on track

So, how did I become such a productive member of society? That’s the question I continually asked myself when I realized my trauma had been so extreme. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely dealt with my fair share of issues including depression and self-objectification. I still have a hard time creating strong, personal relationships. However, I always thought I came away from an incredibly traumatic childhood relatively unscathed. Then, I found out about PCEs and everything began to make sense.

How PCEs helped build my resilience

This brings us back to Mrs. Reavis. As a young child, I loved school. I now recognize that it offered me some much-needed structure and positive experiences away from home. Mrs. Reavis was just one of many teachers who made a positive impact on my life, but she’s most memorable because she took the time to invest in me. She not only cared about my education, but my overall well-being.

That behavior is one of seven PCEs, which include the following: having at least two non-parent adults who genuinely care, feeling protected by an adult at home, feeling supported by friends, a feeling of belonging in high school, participating in community traditions, having a supportive family during difficult times, and the ability to talk with family about feelings.

My PCE score is five out of seven. So as you can see, I had several positive experiences that built resilience during times of trauma. Teachers like Mrs. Reavis made me feel confident in school, and that confidence poured over into team sports like softball and track, where I made supportive friends. Those positive experiences allowed me to feel comfortable seeking the mental health care I needed, which is leading to a much healthier adulthood. They are positive experiences I now work to provide for the children around me. Hopefully a little extra love will help build a lot of resilience.

At this moment, each of you classroom heroes have the opportunity to give your students the sort of positive experience that Mrs. Reavis provided me. This pandemic is causing unseen trauma in children across the country. Life has inevitably changed due to a lack of socialization, food and housing insecurity, even an increase in abuse. Now that children are filtering back into society, they can begin to experience those positive relationships with trusted adults who can counteract those instances of trauma.

In a future article, I’ll explore how any adult can create PCEs, but in the meantime, just know that listening and having honest, open relationships with children is often enough. We all have a chance, every day, to be a positive influence in a child’s life. I encourage you to seek out those opportunities. The difference you make could be lifelong.

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