Below are some facts on traumatized kids:
1. Traumatized kids don’t mean to push your buttons. Neither do they mean to be challenging. They are usually feeling tense, anxious, stressed and afraid. They also feel unsafe and out of control. In addition, they’re afraid to trust, they don’t know who to trust, and they wonder what awful thing might happen next.
2. Traumatized kids find it hard to relax – for they’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. They find it hard to focus, and they can’t concentrate. They have to be on guard, to protect themselves.
3. Our definition of a trauma is individual and unique. What might seem small to you, may seem huge to a child. And it’s the child’s definition that matters, and counts.
4. There are so many things that can traumatize a child. The break up of the family (a separation or divorce); a loss of someone close (and especially a parent), abuse or shouting in the home; witnessing some kind of violence; bullying by peers …. The list goes on and on.
5. You don’t need to know what the trauma was, or elicit all the details, to be helpful to the child. The best way you can help is by being understanding, kind, accepting, warm, affirming and reliable. You don’t need to dig deep; you just need to be empathic. And the child needs to feels safe, and to believe you really care.
6. Traumatized children often struggle with strong feelings. They need help with self-soothing and with self-regulation. Also, they need more time to play, and to relax, and have fun as they easily feel stressed, and overwhelmed.
7. You can build resilience by finding things the child enjoys, and engaging them in tasks that tend to play to their strengths. This will help give them a sense of mastery and control. It set the child up for success, and thus develops self-esteem.