Help children tell their stories. Protective as we may be, children will all experience at least mildly traumatic events. Mean teachers who ridiculed them, like scary moments when they got lost in the supermarket; instances that incited fear, anger or sadness will arise. We can help children resolve these traumas when they occur by supporting their effort to make sense out of what happened to them.
This process starts with talking to them about it. Don’t avoid stressful topics in hopes that children will forget all about the incident. Instead, gently guide children, as they tell you their story. “When did you notice your mother wasn’t around? How did you feel when you realized you were lost?” Talking may seem difficult at first, but the more a child can make sense of his or her story, the more integrated and calm he or she will become. Contrarily, any unresolved trauma can present problems later in life.
Next month – TWO WORDS TO NEVER SAY TO A WHINING CHILD!