It is easier to build strong children than repair a broken man. Frederick Douglass 

Childhood trauma can have a long-lasting effect in children’s lives. Trauma shapes a child’s belief about themselves, the word around them and the adult who cares for them. Trauma can even affect a child’s development.

 

Along with our Trustee Jovita Anikinaitė a child & adolescent psychiatrist and Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) practitioner we have gathered some tips to help parents and caregivers who care for children who experience trauma. 

 

SELF-REGULATION.  

In order to regulate our children, we need to regulate ourselves. We can send a message of assurance to them, only when we do not display our own signs of anxiety and stress. It doesn’t mean we should ignore our true feelings and emotions. In fact, we should express those feelings in a safe and healthy way.  

  • Think of your own safe place at home. It is absolutely okay to have one, even though it may be small or not so comfortable. 
  • Take a break, when you need to. It is okay to step back and go to your safe place to calm down.  
  • Cry, if you need to. With tears we release extra amount of stress hormones. 
  • Be aware of your body. Stop what you are doing and ask, what does your body feel? Stress cumulates in certain parts of our bodies. Do physical activities to help it relax. 
  • Practice self-care. Meet your own physiological, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Plan a self-care activity every other day or at least once a week: get extra sleep, go into nature, read a book, take a bath, watch a movie, listen to your favorite music etc. 

 

FELT-SAFETY.  

Safety is not a cognitive thing, it is a felt thing. Our aim is to make children feel safe, rather than make them know, they are safe. 

  • Ensure good hydration and nutrition. Physiological needs are number one needs to be met in order to support proper brain function learning, attention, emotional control, positive mood, social skills. 
  • Bring structure into a day. Being structured doesn’t mean being strict. Structure creates predictability, which leads to safety. Create a schedule for the day together with your child, so he/she could know, what to expect. 
  • Provide physical activity. In a situation of stress, movement helps to exploit an extra amount of stress hormones, so it won’t deposit in our bodies. 
  • Stay connected to your child. Connection helps children experience they are loved and cared for. Look into your child’s eyes, use safe touch, speak calmly, praise your child for who he is and most importantly be PLAYFUL! Play disarms fear and reduces anxiety! 

CORRECTING BEHAVIOR.  

Correcting means teaching our children how to behave well. Make sure your response to a child’s misbehavior creates a space for learning. Punishment doesn’t teach your child. It only increases fear. Children, who live in fear cannot learn. 

  • Connect before you correct. We won’t be able to correct our child’s behavior, if we won’t connect with them before. Connection brings safety to your child and authority to you.  
  • See the need behind the behavior. There is always a need behind a behavior. May it be hunger, dehydration, sensory need, fear or anxiety we should meet that need, before we correct the behavior. 
  • Give a chance for success. Help a child to repeat the behavior in a right way, so he could learn and experience success. This will strengthen his/her self-esteem and teach new skills.  

 

Based on Trauma Competent Caregiver (TCC) training and Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®). 

To support caregivers and parents we have created the following Infographics: Please feel free to download and share.  

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