When I think back to my childhood (and this was a long time ago), it sometimes happened that I received loud shouting, ear or “clapp on the butt” from my mum or grandma. Two women shaped my childhood: my single mum and grandma. How we deal with children and adults is largely influenced by what we experienced as children: my grandmother belonged to a generation where beating children was unthinkable. Her father at that time, as an authority figure, only said once, twice at the most, how the hare runs, and if the others did not obey, he resorted to harsher measures (hand, stick, belt).
My grandmother always took care of the family – in her own way: Food on the table on time, playing a little with the children but everything had to be done as she said. My mum, who lived her youth in the 60-70s, had a different mindset to some extent: she played more with the children, asked what they wanted – but every now and then she would lose her patience and slap her bottom. What I’m saying is this:
Upbringing, our childhood experiences and later social influences very much determine how we treat our offspring.
In childhood, parents take on the role of “social gatekeepers”: they set up the child’s life so that he or she can have certain social experiences (see my book).
Usually parents give unconditional love: but it doesn’t mean they can’t lose patience or react fearfully-worried-angry. We are human beings and when something upsets us, our first reaction is always emotional. This fact also has its biological basis: the amygdala evaluates emotional dangers (fear, apprehension, worry), which at that time protected prehistoric man from fire and predators. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational thinking, developed later: “There is thus a tension between emotional impulses triggered by the amygdala and rational considerations that take place in the prefrontal cortex. However, when faced with a problem, the instinctive reflex to act quickly takes over” (The Decisive Choice: Impulsive or Reasoned) In short, our first reaction is instinctive, with all our life experiences included.
How to calm the amygdala and cope with stress?
Coping with stressors and stressful experiences caused by them is part of the concept of salutogenesis: it deals with the question of how health arises and the processes behind it (see: salutogenesis).
Understandability: understanding the situation, the “why”-s. The explainability of a situation helps us to cope better “in chaos” and not to react “blindly”.
Feeling of manageability: conveys the feeling that we are not at the mercy of a situation, but we are able to act, react (e.g. through our own (experiences, knowledge) or external resources – sources of help: Partners, friends, books, forums).
Sense of purpose: every situation has a purpose, even if we do not recognise it immediately. Seeing the sense of purpose encourages dedication to the current situation/tasks.
Making physical contact helps calm the amygdala: the hormone oxytocin is released. Hugs or patting on the shoulder, holding hands are good coping mechanisms 😊
Read more about it in the Healthline