One of the most difficult moments for any parent or caregiver is when you first learn about some traumatic event that a child in your care has experienced. It is so hard to know what to say, what not to say and also what to do with your own feelings and sensations about what happened to them. There is such a feeling of powerlessness and sometimes inadequacy to meet the needs of the child who has been trauma-impacted.
Although there are no magical answers to these difficult questions there are some good guidelines that can help if and when such a dilemma arises. In fact, sometimes how we respond can become an intervention that can help how other symptoms may emerge in the future.
In a recent article in Psychology Today, therapist Keith Fadelici provides some research and 4 interventions to optimize family support when there is a traumatic event in the lives of our children. Here are the summary statements of these 4 interventions:
- Acknowledge and respond to the PTE’s (potentially traumatic event) impact on the child.
- Maintain, restore, or increase structure in the child’s life (particularly those that increase the expression of affection or comfort and those that focus on the child’s competencies).
- Recognize misbehavior and withdrawal as attempts to regain control and respond to them with opportunities to cooperatively increase their control.
- Take care of yourself.
The article explains more about these concepts which can be helpful to anyone who finds themselves dealing with trauma-impacted children.
These moments are certainly not easy for children or parents and caregivers. However, having some tools in our toolbelt can really help to increase our confidence so that we have the ability to communicate effectively during some of the most difficult situations our children can face. Ensuing that kind of confidence can provide stability, support and help as the child navigates the emotions and responses to traumatic situations.
Often it can also help to speak with a trauma-informed therapist to provide counsel and support for those issues that may be too complex or difficult to process. These are key moments for both children and their caregivers to help process some of life’s most difficult moments and may have significant impact to how these events are perceived and resolved in the future. Professional help, when needed, can make a huge difference.