I’m sure that we all want the best for our children, which is why we spend a lot of time and resources preparing them for the real world. However, despite the protections we’ve put in place, there’s little we can do to prevent them from experiencing emotional trauma. Children are resilient creatures. However, we know that traumatic events can alter the trajectory of their development. That is why we need to pay special attention to their needs, especially after a traumatic event.
Every person will experience a traumatic experience at some point in their lives. But if trauma occurs at a young age, it could cause sadness, anxiety, and confusion in the child. They’re not equipped with the knowledge and experience to properly process their experience. We must give them the attention and care they need to minimize the chaos and make sense of things.
An expert in childcare can help lighten the load, but the responsibility still rests with the parents. That said, child-rearing is already challenging enough on most days, and adding the stress of emotional trauma is enough to break anyone. Here are a few things you can do to help your child process their trauma.
1. Allow the child to express what they feel
The first thing you need to understand is children express their emotions differently. For instance, some children act out when they feel stressed. This is not a reflection of their attitude but rather of their emotional immaturity. Children who have experienced major trauma may have recurring problems. Instead of regulating their behavior, it may be better to understand what they feel.
More often than not, children misbehave because it’s the only way they know how to catch your attention. You can teach them alternative methods of expression. Some use music while others make use of art. Even a simple conversation can reveal the extent of the problem.
2. Don’t fixate on the little things
Children may not realize that what they’re doing is bad or wrong, and it’s important to understand their actions as they navigate their emotions. That said, you also need to take action to begin the process of healing. Don’t fixate too much on everything they’ve said or done. Instead, look at the bigger picture. Let their behavior serve as a marker of their progress.
It’s perfectly normal for children to act out in the aftermath of a traumatic experience. Their behavior will improve as they grow and learn from their mistakes. However, you may need to see a child specialist if no progress is made.
3. Be transparent
What a child needs as they navigate their emotions is stability. They need a stable foundation to give them a sense of security. That means you’ll need to follow their old routines and habits. Any sudden change can prove chaotic and make them more confused and anxious.
Parents tend to shield their children from the horrors of the outside world, but keeping them in the dark can cause more damage. Make it a point to be transparent and honest about changes in their life. While you don’t have to explain everything in detail, it shows them how things are, not what they ought to be.
4. Cut yourself some slack
The road to recovery is long and fraught with many challenges. You want to bring back the normalcy shattered by the experience, but all you can do is move forward. Of course, coping with the emotional adjustments can be difficult, which is why you need to cut yourself some slack. The healing process won’t begin until you give it a try.
For some people, healing requires an acknowledgment of the traumatic experience. Others try to focus on the more positive aspects of life. You can take a vacation with your child or try new hobbies together. Regardless of how you navigate the trauma, make sure that you put your child’s welfare first. Ease them back into normalcy, and eventually, they’ll return to their old self.
The bottom line
It’s important to be proactive when something traumatic happens to your child. Don’t fixate too much on what happened. Instead, focus on your energies on healing and moving forward. Your child deserves stability and love, and if you teach them how to process their emotions and navigate their trauma, they will emerge stronger and more resilient.