Childhood trauma can shape our experiences in life. Kids with trauma can correlate what is happening to them now forever, whether that be families and relationships or how to deal with stress. But you don’t have to let your child figure out how to cope on their own.
Here are seven ways you can help your kids with trauma overcome the problem.
1. Make Them Feel Safe
The most important thing you can do to help kids with trauma problems is to make them feel safe and comfortable in their home or safe space. Often, children will create safe spaces in the home as a way to feel like they’re getting away from the problem.
While it might not be great to intrude on this safe space, you can try to aid in the safe space. This can be by offering to bring snacks or maybe their favorite movie. Regardless, try to let them know that the rest of the space is safe as well and that they don’t have to just rely on the safe space to feel okay.
2. Get a Therapist That Helps Everyone
An important part of helping children cope is to get them set up with a credible therapist that helps everyone. Do note, that not every therapist is going to work for your child. Don’t shy away from asking how they felt about the therapist to get their opinion.
Make sure that there are therapy sessions with everyone and the child by themselves. This gives everyone in the family a chance to find out how to cope together, as well as give the child a chance to learn their own coping mechanisms that they can practice on their own.
3. Act Calm When They Relive the Trauma
When a child relives the trauma, they may act out or become depressed. Your job is to offer a space and deminer that helps the child understand that the trauma has already passed. Beyond helping them understand, you need to act calm and not act out, as this can only increase the trauma associated with the reliving.
Yelling, disciplining, or ignoring the child when this happens can lead to the child feeling as if they are wrong for what they went through. This can lead to improper coping and can have harmful effects on their mental health for years to come.
4. Understand the Way Your Child Copes
Also, understand that your child will cope in different methods depending on the type of trauma that they experienced. A child that was in a car accident will react differently than a child that just went through a messy divorce.
Coping mechanisms can consist of something simple, like wanting their favorite comfort food, or more specific like needing a certain playlist to get them through their reliving. Talk to your child and see what helps them the most, as this will be the best way for your to help
For instance, if your family is going through a divorce, you might find that it is helpful to mention that these things happen. They might find it comforting to know that you and your ex-partner just don’t see eye to eye anymore, and for the good of everyone, need to go their separate ways.
If you want to learn more about the process of divorcing with kids, be sure to check out the link.
5. Answer Their Questions Truthfully
You’ll need to play this one by ear, but answering truthfully to your children can help them understand the trauma so that they can learn to cope. Hiding information that would otherwise help them can lead to negative impacts, where they try to find the information themselves. This can lead to negative repercussions for you, as they might not see you as a trusted face anymore.
Even in events where it is not best to them everything, explain that to them. Let them know that while you can’t fully explain it to them, try to at least give them the parts that they will understand. This at least creates an open line of communication that says you want to talk about it, they’re just not going to be able to comprehend it.
6. Limit Exposure to the Traumatic Event
Try to limit the amount of exposure that the child gets to the traumatic event. If it just happened and was big enough to make the news, try not to show it around your child. This can cause them to relive the moment and make it that much more vivid.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you’ll need to do this forever. You’ll need to make the right call when it comes to time to introduce what happened back into their minds. In this case, be sure to pair up with their therapist to find the best solution.
7. Encourage Talking
Establish an open communication channel with your child. One that lets them know that you’re there to talk and listen, rather than yell and make them feel like they don’t understand what is going on. Communication with children is all about coming down to eye level and ensuring that you’re talking to them like an equal, rather than a nuisance.
Now the child may not be up for talking, especially right after the event. The goal is to encourage the talking, rather than forcing it. Even if they don’t seem responsive initially, just letting them know that you’re there can make all the difference.
Kids With Trauma Shouldn’t Go Left Unheard
When you’re dealing with kids with trauma, you need to make sure that they’re not alone. Whatever they went through initially, they need to know that it is over and that they’re in this with their support group now, rather than by themselves. Just be sure not to push too hard that it brings you back to square one.
Want to learn more about getting better at communicating? Then you need to check out the rest of the blog. If you know someone that could use some pointers with their children, then be sure to share this article with them.