What do tigers, meerkats, and owls have to do with the Coronavirus?
Any experience that leaves you feeling scared, worried, and uncertain creates an involuntary stress response in your body. This means that despite logic, reason, and good coping skills, some of the reactions we have in times of crisis are largely out of our control.
Why does this happen?
Here is an easy way to understand the stress response and something you can teach to your students.
First, imagine that three animals live in your body. We all (at every age) have an imaginary meerkat, tiger, and owl living inside of us.
If you have ever seen a meerkat, you know that they have very large eyes and usually stand up on their hind legs. When meerkats sense danger they alert their pack by letting out a very loud screeching sound. Meerkats are like smoke detectors. The meerkat inside of us rules the stress response by directing the other two animals inside of us how to respond, depending upon the current level of stress.
When everything is calm, safe, and there is no danger, the meerkat tells the tiger to do what they do best – sleep, eat, and interact with their tiger friends. When everything is calm, safe, and there is no danger, the meerkat tells the owl to do what they do best – solve problems, read, learn, and make wise decisions. But, when things are not calm, safe, and there is potential danger or crisis, the meerkat tells the tiger to get ready to fight. And, the meerkat tells the owl that he better fly away fast to stay safe!
In the past weeks, maybe you have noticed your meerkat being more on alert? No doubt, the pandemic has made our meerkats more sensitive to worry, fear, and uncertainty. Our tigers may be having trouble sleeping, eating, and getting along with others. Your tiger may be more irritable and argumentative than usual. That is likely because the meerkat is telling the tiger to be ready to survive.
What about your owl? If your owl has flown away you may be finding it hard to concentrate right now and to trust logic and reason. Despite hearing from others that the pandemic will not last forever, it might be hard to really believe things will ever go back to normal.
So how can use tigers, meerkats, and owls to help our kids? Use this script and worksheet to help them express the animals inside them:
Watch me explain the animals inside all of us in Children of Trauma and Resilience:
This Week's Deals
Those who have taken Trauma-Informed Resilient Schools and Resetting for Resilience can take the next step towards their trauma-informed certification with course 3 in Starr's education track. Learn more and take advantage of these savings at starr.org/htrrs.
Haven't taken Resetting for Resilience yet? You can still save!
Use the code 10STEPS29 at checkout to save!
10 Steps to Create a Trauma-Informed Resilient School provides the tools you need to put your classroom, school, or district on the path to becoming trauma-informed and building resilience in all students. This latest edition, complete with a new name, features over 100 more pages of lessons, activities, and case studies to ensure schools are even more equipped to break through the social emotional barriers to learning.
With this great resource, you will:
- Gain an understanding of how childhood trauma impacts learning and behavior.
- Review actual scenarios and expert answers to tough questions.
- Learn 10 concrete steps to guide the creation and implementation of a trauma-informed school.
- Be provided practical activity worksheets to copy for use with students.
- Have access to Starr PTSD assessments, Life Event Checklist, ACE questionnaire, and school questionnaire forms.