Understanding Your Child’s Needs. Children who have experienced severe trauma may need more. Sad, Bad, scary and confusing experiences can cause children to see and react in different ways. Whether it is a onetime traumatic experience or recurring, the family dynamic changes.
In reaction to traumatic stress children may exhibit a variety of troubling, confusing, or upsetting behaviors and emotions.
They may have:
- A hard time concentrating or learning new information
- Nightmares or trouble falling or staying asleep
- Difficulty managing their feelings and emotions; they may be sullen one minute and cheerful the next, or suddenly become angry or aggressive
- A persistent feeling that they are not safe
- Problems forming trusting relationships
- A hard time handling even simple changes
- Extreme responses to stress
Children have an amazing superpower: Resiliency!
Resilience is the capacity to recover from trauma. Generally speaking, children are more able to “bounce back” from trauma when they feel safe, capable, and lovable.
Many factors can promote resilience and help children see the world as Safe, understandable, and meaningful.
- Healthy relationships with competent, caring, supportive adults
- Connections with positive role models or mentors
- Having their strengths and abilities acknowledged and cultivated
- A sense of control over their lives
- Being part of a community (e.g., family, scout troop, church, etc.)
No matter how old they are or what they’ve experienced, with nurture and support children who have been through trauma can regain trust, confidence, and hope.
Helping Children Heal through Trauma-Informed Parenting
Following are steps parents and supporting adults can take to help children build resilience and overcome the effects of traumatic stress:
- Understand trauma’s impact on the children in your care.
- Help children feel safe.
- Help children understand and manage overwhelming emotions.
- Help children understand and manage difficult behaviors.
- Respect and support children’s positive, stable relationships.
- Help children develop a strengths-based understanding of their life story.
- Promote and support trauma-focused assessment and treatment.
By creating a structured, predictable environment, listening to the child’s story at the child’s pace, and working with professionals trained in trauma and its treatment, parents can make all the difference. Let’s not forget about you as the parent. Supporting your child through their trauma and helping them to build resiliency is not an easy task. I am here for you as well to help provide support, understanding and strategies for you to have the best outcome with your child. Together we can ease the stress of parenting and create a safe and healthy environment.