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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Trauma - Healing Process

Some positive ways that parents can help children who have experienced a trauma.

  1. Comfort and Reassurance
  2. Information Provide basic information about what happened to them in language they can understand.  Questions are answered directly and matter of factly.
  3. Expect Regression Returning to "babyish" behaviours - biting, bedwetting, hitting, wanting to drink from a bottle. Childhood fears sometimes reappear.  Parents can respond with gentleness and understanding e.g. "I know you're having difficulty with this now, but we can handle this problem together until you're feeling better".
  4. Respect a child's fears. Children are helped toward true courage by acceptance and respect of their fear and gentle, practical assistance in overcoming it.  "I know you're feeling frightened of ______ right now.  Let's think what we can do to make this less scary for you".
  • Provide active help for flashbacks (Acting or feeling if the traumatic event were recurring).  Try to orientate the child to present sounds, smell and objects in the immediate vicinity.
  • Provide opportunities to talk about their feelings.  Identify and reflect their feelings. E.g. “I can see you are feeling angry now.”
  • Expect / tolerate repetitious retelling of a traumatic event.  Retelling is part of healing.
  • Provide opportunities and props for play.  Children often work through the trauma with play.  "Play provides a courage all of it's own"  Jerome Brunner
  • Expect some difficult behaviour as a result of the trauma.  Following a loss of control in their lives, many children may exhibit behavioural problems at home and at school.  They may cry over little things, make angry demands, show more aggression, test limits and rules.  Parents who respond gently, but firmly have the easiest time with the misbehaviour.
  • Communicate with school and childcare staff about the trauma.
  • Maintain Routines, (e.g. reading bed-time stories) and avoid the new and challenging.
  • Monitor and limit children's re-exposure to frightening situations and activities.
  • Parents should serve as a barrier between the child and their exposure to any specific activity, place, sight, smell or noise that would evoke memory of the trauma.
  • Provide physical outlets.  The memory of the trauma is often lodged in children's bodies and physical experience.  Children need to be offered good and fun physical activity as part of the healing process e.g. sport with attention and admiration.
  • Keep anniversary reactions in mind.  Holidays, birthdays and special annual events, have tremendous power to evoke the memories of trauma for children.
  • Listen for a child's distortions and misunderstandings of a traumatic event. e.g. blaming themselves.  Use this as an opportunity to correct any distortions of the event.
  • Be mindful of your reaction to the trauma.  Our own response to the trauma.
  • Assess the need for professional intervention.  A change in the child’s behavioural patterns may warrant professional treatment.  If you are unsure of this, contact a professional and discuss whether this could be helpful to your child.