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How useful is memory over the tunnel of time?

‘Let’s hide from the disease!’ urges my little one herding a group of favourite toys into a canvas tunnel. I wonder what he will remember of this coronavirus crisis as he knows something is going on as it is limited where we can go and who we can see and there will be some mention of it in his childcare.

We have only tried to explain if he asks questions and to hide our fluctuating negative thoughts about this from him which is a big ask for many parents considering the anxieties of lack of personal space, freedom, choice and money worries at the moment. But rallying round, reassurance and routine seem to be prevailing recommended coping mechanisms.

Research has shown that small children are more likely to remember an experience the stronger the emotion attached to a memory rather than the factual accuracy aspect of the memory which is more likely for older children and onwards. We can go back to dear old Freud 100+ years ago for initial serious research into childhood amnesia leading up to the benefits of enhanced and reduced intake of the GABA neurotransmitter in neurology aiding selective memory in the 21st Century which could help in helping people keeping their anxieties at bay and delay onset.

I remember one popular actor recalling bombings in wartime London on his home as an under 5 vividly due to the overwhelming fear and noise and his parents reassuring him with platitudes he could relate to as they found a relatively safe place to shelter. I was also heartened as well as intrigued at the quality of memory for a 90 year old in the Daily Telegraph this week in recognising herself as a teenager on a VE Day stamp enhanced by colourwash with her sister and friend, the recollection of the detail of the day as well as the powerful emotion attached to it of obvious hope and relief for all. There was only one little one having a cry in a pink dress with a happy mum but hopefully that was just for a few minutes while this brilliant snap was taken! But those recollections make them the people they are today.

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