For good mental health, it’s important to anticipate reactions to the anniversary of a traumatic event. For children, the timing can be about a specific date something happened (for example, May 22, 2011), a key event that happens on an annual basis (a birth date or specific holiday) or seasonal (visual cues in nature or decorations people may use during the time frame). The anniversary of events such as these serve as a strong reminder — it may renew early feelings and spark worries that a similar event may happen in the near future.
As soon as a body lands in the pool, water is pushed out to make room for the plunging object. Since the water has no other place to go, it shoots upward and outward. A precision dive might produce a slight splash, but a cannonball splatters and leaves a ripple effect. Within the compassion continuum, similar risk exists for caring child-serving adults who help children during intense emotional situations. Calm waters can be disturbed by unfortunate events.
In this blog post, the compassion continuum discussion continues using the pool metaphor. The pool refers to adults in children’s lives, i.e. adults are pools full of sources to share, or provide resources, to children. Hopefully, the water hoses coming into the swimming pool are keeping pace with the amount of water going out due to evaporation, splashing, and filters. High water levels are dependable under these conditions. Leaks in the pool will drain the water level, however.
In the overall theme of the behavior traffic light, the purpose of the yellow light is to help children understand that many important parts of life need to be thoroughly considered. Adults use yellow light words to send a message of “slow down.” When a person is using the yellow light in their behavior traffic light, he or she are aware, resilient and self-directed – healthy, safe and happy effects are predictable.
In the overall theme of the behavior traffic light, the purpose of the green light is to cultivate the perception that we have a choice throughout many important parts of daily living. Adults use green light words to convey freedom of choice. When a person is using the green light in their behavior traffic light, healthy, safe and happy effects are predictable. Children need to become accustomed to what is in the green zone.
In the overall theme of the behavior traffic light, the purpose of the red light is to cultivate the perception that red is important due to safety issues. Adults use red light words to send a message of caution. When a person is using the red light in their behavior traffic light, it is as if they are on alert and using fight, flight or freeze defense mechanisms. There are healthy and highly valued effects of activating the red light, detrimental effects can happen if the red light stays on too long.
The behavior traffic light can be used to gain insight but also to enhance areas that improve mental health. One area of insight has to do with resiliency – if you’re concerned about your child’s resiliency, helping him or her build capacity for meeting challenges can help. You can help your child learn to have an accurate perception of the problem and a helpful interpretation of the necessary problem-solving steps.
People around the world – drivers and nondrivers alike – can relate to the meaning of the colors red, yellow and green in terms of traffic control. Traffic lights help drivers determine whether to go, slow or stop. This understanding of a traffic light can be applied to good mental health interactions with children so well.