Recent world events have forced us all to become more collectively aware of what trauma means and the impact it can have on our mental health and well-being. What can we do to support resiliency in our children both during and after traumatic events such as a global pandemic? While these are simplified examples, and different types of trauma warrant different responses, it can help to know there are concrete ways we can build skills to cope with trauma effectively:

By Alexandra Back, ATR-BC, LPC, Director of Creative Arts Therapies at NeurAbilities

  1. Ensure consistency in basic routines as much as possible (sleeping, eating, exercise, play time, family time).
  2. Make opportunities to talk about, play, or use creative outlets to explore what is happening (such as art, music, or dance).
  3. Understand that children may need to repeat the story of what is happening or ask repeated questions.
  4. Be patient with your child’s processing of events.
  5. Be honest and give age-appropriate explanations where possible. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know all of the answers.
  6. Validate that intense or worried feelings during situations like these are normal and will not last forever.
  7. For older children and teenagers, encourage healthful “breaks” from news coverage and/or social media, and limit exposure for younger children entirely.
  8. Provide reassurance through contact with close caregiver, soothing sensory experiences, toys, comforting materials, etc.
  9. Model adaptive thinking such as “This is a scary situation but we are taking precautions and will get through this.”
  10. Allow your child to grieve any perceived losses.

If your child displays signs of regressive behaviors, hyper-arousal, physical complaints, frequent nightmares or worries, or continued signs of stress, it is important to seek professional help.

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