Everyone is surprised when I say yes, I want to provide my children with stress. Let me explain better: I want you to go through small and harmless stresses from time to time so that you learn in a protected way to deal with small storms. Now we live in times of coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly we left a state of tranquility for an enormous whirlwind. We are at risk of becoming infected and transmitting the virus to loved ones, we have difficulty supplying health care, we have potential difficulty supplying food. And we are fueled by many uncertainties and their consequences. They are the result of the real risks added to those invented and fed by so many fake news.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t warn us and doesn’t prepare us for everything we may need to deal with. Thus, some small and harmless stresses not directed directly at our children can bring training for what may come and leave them prepared, for the situation that comes. We hope it does not come, but if it does it will be good to have the “thick leather” or “thick skin”.
But a little harmless stress for me can be giant for you or the other way around. Sure! And this is difficult to measure, isn’t it? There are some parameters that can be interesting for a stress to be considered small for that individual, namely: a stress should not be intense (type should not put the person’s life at risk), should promote challenge, must be absolutely safe for the individual , it should make the person confident about their loved ones (such as parents and support people) and should not be continuous, long or repeated.
Even with these parameters we can say and think that individual differences still exist and they really exist in relation to each situation for each child and individual. Some children after situations of landslides and floods depress, but if the social and family structure is functional, the family provides support, the routine is quickly restored and social support happens. Thus, the chances of depression are lower for that child than those who do not have this structure.
When parents divorce, despite all the complexities of this circumstance, if children know they are loved by all parties and do not feel guilty about the situations, the greater the chance that they will recover and reorganize faster within the context of new routine.
Literature has no magic formulas for creating resistance to stress or even resilience. Resilience is conceptualized in several ways, one of which concerns the great capacity to recover from stress, that is, it differs in intensity from what we were saying because it promotes disorganization, suffering and discomfort, but the important thing is that it is followed by overcoming. This situation makes “leather harder” as our parents and grandparents said, but it is personal and apparently non-transferable. So, if it is for our loved ones to experience stresses, that they be so, of small intensity, short duration and that it does not disorganize them too much and that they can survive and flourish.