Focused Activities for Children's Emotions (FACE)
It goes without saying that children who witness directly bombings and horrors of war, loss of relatives and displacement, suffer from a huge psychological distress.1. According to recent studies, 45% of children show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) - ten times the prevalence worldwide- such as serious sleeping disorders (nightmare, bedwetting, fear of not waking up), hyper vigilance and hyper arousal, and mild to severe anxiety, while 44% exhibit symptoms of depression.2. Children in these contexts have to adapt and often develop negative coping mechanisms. Among those, aggressive behaviors or trivializing violence are very common, as a response to a chaotic world where notions of good and bad become blurred. In order to support these children, the IRC uses a psychosocial support (PSS) approach, to alleviate the burden carried by children and help them address their mental health needs.
PSS is a process of facilitating resilience within individuals, families and communities; enabling families to bounce back from the impact of crises and helping them to deal with such events in the future. By respecting the independence, dignity and coping mechanisms of individuals and communities, psychosocial support promotes the restoration of social cohesion and infrastructure.
The IRC has developed a specific curriculum for adolescents, called Now I’m stronger, which aims to promote two main characteristics: active participation of youth and children, and development of their basic life skills to support positive coping and resilience capacities of children.
How do we do this?
How does that work in practice? How do we achieve those results? The activities we implement through Now I’m Stronger are obviously important, but what really makes the difference is who delivers it and how! So beyond organizing and implementing the activities with the children, conscious and active efforts and energy are put into training the facilitators to address the three following aspects - attitudes, observations skills and institutional framework, our psychosocial intervention is then strengthened, more coherent and more efficient.
Who is targeted by Now I’m Stronger?
The children we are targeting for our curriculum have been through a lot of difficulties and potentially traumatic events, and they are evolving daily in an environment full of stressors and aggression. As a result, they might exhibit a range of behaviors and emotions that impact their life and their way to connect and interact with others. For instance, in most cases, aggressiveness and violence are not only trivialized but also used as a defense mechanism (a way of surviving emotionally).
It seems therefore important to lead these children to transform this emotional and intellectual thought process into a more nurturing and constructive pattern. It makes any type of interventions with them more challenging, but also much needed and relevant.