Fear is Contagious

“Hysteria is Only Possible with an Audience” – Chuck Palahniuk

We all have our own thoughts and opinions on the current Coronavirus and I am not here to go into any detail about the virus itself, there is already enough information in all its forms being thrown our way. I am here to talk about how our children look to us in these times and how we respond to situations like these.

I wish that in this situation I could say I have seen kindness, patience and calm but all I have seen an every man for himself mentality full of fear, panic and hysteria which for some reason has cleared all the shelves of toilet paper. Now if it is scary for me to understand as an adult how people can turn on one another so quickly, what is that like for a child? especially one with special needs. Now,I like to have an open dialogue with my son and I asked him if he was afraid or scared in anyway, and not just about getting possibly sick but how the whole situation made him feel. He said the virus doesn’t scare him but seeing how people were acting in stores, being told to wash his hands even more than he does, being told to use hand sanitizer even more than he does made him afraid and anxious, but not the virus.

I believe in all this hysteria, madness, fear, hand washing, hand sanitizing (which has its downfalls too), constant news coverage we have forgotten that we are setting the example of how to respond to situations like these. I do not watch the news I get what I need from the reliable internet sources and I do not spend hours looking at it either. It is important in times like these to try our very best to keep our children’s routine, to keep letting them be kids, to play, to laugh and to not make them “adult” before their time.

In response to overwhelming stress in young children:

  • The brain drives the “fight or flight response” and release of stress hormones.
  • The young child has limited capacity to manage this overwhelming stress and experiences increased arousal — fear and anxiety (physical and emotional sensations).
  • Excessive fear and anxiety and excessive cortisol (stress hormone) can affect the capacity for stress regulation as well as development and higher functions of the brain, and
  • Significant early adversity can lead to lifelong problems (physical and mental health).

(National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2005, 2007, 2010)

A lot of us have not been in this situation before and it is ok to not know what to do. I will say that again IT IS OK TO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO. However having our children see us be ugly to each other, being encased in fear and panic, constantly watching the news. It is ok to be aware of the situation and take precautions, it is even ok to worry but don’t let it take over your life. Everything is being postponed, cancelled or shut down including schools and work places for indefinite periods of time. Let us make sure in this difficult time to not cancel being a family or cancel being there for each other, or cancel being a kind human or cancel having fun or laughing or hugging our loved ones. Fear is contagious but so is calm, so is laughter, so is love.

Here are some links below that I hope can help you in this difficult time.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
Dalai Lama XIV

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