How to Help a Child Overcome Trauma at Home
In this article, I want to give you the first steps you can do right now at home to help your child overcome trauma. I will talk about the impact of trauma on child development, benefits of exercise for kids who have experienced trauma, and PTSD exercised for healing for parents at home.
Impact of Trauma on Child Development – An Overview
Thinking about something terrible happening to children can be a difficult thought process to undertake, so I will tread as gently as I can in this article. My aim is to educate.
Trauma’s effect on child development is highly significant and highly variable dependent on the traumatic experience. Here is the CDC’s overview of child trauma
Traumas can cause your child’s body to be much more active, cause higher chances of other mental illnesses, and can make life much more difficult for them as young children, older children, adolescents, and eventually adults.
Children with trauma may also exhibit high levels of emotional reactivity. Tantrums, oppositional behaviors, lying, stealing, hiding things, and aggression are all possible signs of trauma in children.
At the same time, some children do not exhibit symptoms at all. This does NOT mean they were not affected. Trauma symptoms in children present highly variable.
In these cases, PLEASE consult with a specialist in child trauma before attempting to intervene. Trauma therapy is an incredibly intense process. If administered by an untrained or under-trained clinician, can actually cause more damage than harm.
Contact your trauma specialist for more information. In this article I recommend some psychotherapy approaches to help with child trauma. Feel free to check that one out!
Otherwise, I will discuss some things at home that you can use with your children who may have experienced trauma to help with day-to-day coping in the next section.
Exercise for Kids who have Experienced Trauma
The first recommendation is exercise!
Trauma affects our bodies in ways that are out of our control. Using exercise is a fantastic way for children to reclaim control of their bodies.
Building habits for exercise early on can help develop healthy habits and structure for when children grow older and combat the potential for these illnesses.
For specific recommendations, check out this article on exercises for children with PTSD.
Eating Healthy to Overcome Trauma at Home
The gut-brain axis is paramount in helping children heal from trauma at home. Healthy eating is a great way to reclaim control of this axis.
Eating healthy does not simply mean more fruits and vegetables. Cook with your kids. Have fun with them while cooking. Do not be afraid to be silly. Eat with them at a structured time.
All of these practices enhance your relationship with your children. It also enhances their relationships with food! Be sure to check out this article about specific foods to add for a healthier diet.
Sleep Well Eating Healthy to Overcome Trauma at Home
Sleep is probably the most important aspect of healthy living that we can use for ourselves. Children who have experienced trauma are not the exception.
Our brains and bodies recover during sleep. Through the process of REM sleep our brains process daily experiences. This process helps to process trauma, as well. So it is important for kids to get the sleep they need.
Trauma can have detrimental effects on sleep in children. Nightmares, anxiety at night, and difficulty falling and staying asleep are all potential issues that can arise. It is important to take your child to a trauma specialist to diagnose any potential sleep problems.
Promote Healthy Relationships to Overcome Trauma at Home
Humans are relational animals. We often depend on each other for healing. Your relationship with your child is the most important aspect of their healing.
No matter what, traumatized or not, prioritize relationships with your children over everything. This means school, discipline, or your frustrations with them.
Relationships teach children how to lead healthy lives. Especially if they have experienced trauma it is of even more importance that you stress your relationship with them everyday. This gives them unconditional safety, which is otherwise compromised in traumatic situations.
Check in with them regularly. Talk about your feelings with them. Teach them to feel their feelings in their bodies. Combat pain with love and support. The most successful parents I have worked with have been able to use these techniques in their everyday lives.
For all of my kids that I see in practice, I ALWAYS recommend to parents that they focus on these aspects at home. Nourishing your child’s mind and body so that they work together is a great way that you can help out your child at home with their behaviors related to trauma and toxic stress.
If you are wanting to chat a bit more about these lifestyle changes, feel free to reach out.
If you are in Michigan and are wanting psychological consultation for your child or yourself, feel free to reach out with my contact form, as well!