Helping a young child who has experienced abuse, abandonment, or other traumas can be challenging, especially when the child may not know how to adequately communicate their emotions. While some people believe healing children from trauma should be left to professionals, there are many steps you can take as an adult who is actively involved in a child’s daily life.
Parents and other caregivers can participate in their child’s or young adult’s healing journey and play a significant role in helping these individuals release their suffering. Keep reading for techniques for helping your child heal from trauma.
Encourage Healthy Communication
When working with anyone experiencing trauma, regardless of their age, it’s important to provide them with hope and encouragement rather than simply attempting to mask their pain with happy thoughts. It’s necessary to acknowledge the painful memories – not deny their existence – and then overcome the leftover despair with a brighter outlook for the future.
Have a discussion with your child about what occurred. The only way to truly manage trauma is to acknowledge it happened and fully process the events. Pushing it deeper into the subconscious by pretending it wasn’t real can have life-long effects that may arise decades down the road.
Create a safe and open space for your child to share their story. This is likely a difficult subject for your child to discuss, so give them time to open up and don’t force or push them if they aren’t ready. Teach them it is safe to talk about these things on their own terms.
Write a ‘Trauma Narrative’
Whether your child is having a difficult time putting their feelings into words or you think it would be a beneficial time to dive deeper into the subject, creating a ‘trauma narrative’ book with your child can be a powerful tool.
Have your child create a book where each page represents a scene in the “drama.” Have them choose a climax, which is the worst part of the trauma that occurred. In more complex cases where the child has experienced multiple levels of trauma with different types of abuse, the story doesn’t necessarily need a climax, but can contain different pieces of the events.
Art is an effective therapeutic in and of itself, so using it as a way to closely examine the psyche can help release a lot of the negative energy trapped in a child’s connection to their trauma. Give your child a variety of art tools to use- they can write, use stamps, collage, paint, color with crayons or markers, and more. Exploring trauma, while painful, can be done with a creative and potentially enjoyable activity.
Exploring trauma can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Using a creative outlet such as composing a ‘Trauma Narrative’ book can provide relief and help a child process events that took place.
Instill a Sense of Self Trust
Children are incredibly impressionable- you may have heard the expression that children are like sponges and soak up all they are exposed to. Oftentimes in abusive homes, children are taught that they can’t properly think or feel on their own. They are forced by their abuser to do or say whatever they are told without question, so they often don’t use reflection of their own experiences, knowledge, and intuition to make decisions.
Helping a child connect to their intuition and trust in his or herself takes patience. Have a conversation with your child about the importance of listening to one’s own inner voice. Asking the child how they feel about their traumatic experiences will expose them to the importance of introspection.
Practice the Stages of Grief
Many children and even adults are shut off from space to grieve properly. This may be a result of being repeatedly told throughout life to not cry, to be strong and push through, and to keep hard emotions inside.
While it’s important to talk about hard experiences with your child, it’s equally important to help them navigate the grieving process and give them room to be upset. The emotions that arise, including sadness, anger, confusion, fear, or any other emotion, are all valid and don’t need to be analyzed by the child. Express to them that they are allowed to experience these feelings at their own pace and don’t need to rush through this difficult processing period.
Extreme grief can be challenging for anyone to process, but especially for the young, developing mind. Fortunately, EPT™ can help your child through this struggle. If a loved one is holding onto unresolved trauma, call me today for a free phone consultation- (765) 382-6996.
Establish Clear Boundaries
In most abusive situations, boundaries are clearly crossed. However, in most cases the child is unaware of these boundaries and hasn’t been taught to stand up for himself or herself.
Boundaries can be:
Sometimes, emotional intelligence concepts are slightly abstract and may be challenging for your child to grasp. To help them understand, you can use art and draw a picture of a wall, line, or other boundary indicator. On one side, list qualities of healthy boundaries, while on the other side, list unhealthy violations of the set boundaries.
Learn More > Holistic Healing for Teens
Identify the Hurting Self and the Healing Self
Normalize discussing difficult memories with your child. Distinguish the child’s “hurt self” from the “healthy self” to remind them that they are strong and capable of healing and can help the “hurt self” back on their feet. Ask your child if they can identify how they experienced the pain they have faced.
Create two lists with your child with both harmful beliefs and healing beliefs. A child may write “I am unwanted,” “I will never feel safe again,” “If I were thinner, I would have more friends” or “If I were a better child, my parents would not have treated me that way.” By identifying these hurtful beliefs, you and your child can replace them with positive, helpful, healing beliefs.
Step into Abundance with Jolisa Clare Holistic
While all of these tools and tips can be very effective at advancing your child’s healing journey, it’s important that you remind them trauma will not be resolved overnight. Try and teach your child patience and explain that healing can sometimes require hard work and a lot of time.
A lot of productive progress can be completed at home, but the help of a professional can efficiently accelerate the process.
If you or your child is in need of purging the energetic body from trauma, contact Jolisa Clare Holistic.