How To Help Children With Trauma

Children Are “Survivors” Not “Victims”

Any child who has suffered from a traumatic experience is  a victim of unforeseeable circumstances. However, anyone (not just children) who experience tragic events in their life should be considered more a “Survivor” not a “Victim”.

It is perfectly fine to acknowledge your child’s suffering; however, it is much more important to see yourself and your child as a “survivor” and not a victim of a traumatic situation. To move beyond trauma, you need to focus on your child’s confidence, and not the event which caused the trauma.

Helpful Tips For Building Your Child’s Confidence

  1. Compliments
    Over-complimenting our children early on in their development is necessary to help them master such skills as crawling, walking or talking. However, when children become older, compliments should not be given for all of their actions. For example, every time they get dressed by themselves, you do not have to say “great job.” If we give compliments for every little thing that they do, they will not realize when they should be praised for a big accomplishment. This by no means suggests that you should not give positive feedback to your children about things that they do, rather it suggests just toning down the compliments you give for things that you expect them to do.
  2. Refrain from rescuing your child
    When we suspect our child is hurting, we want to take away their pain. It is natural to feel this way. However, when your child is not invited to a birthday party that you think she should be included in and you call the other child’s parents, you are not helping your child. According to Robert Brooks, PhD, coauthor of Raising Resilient Children, “…kids need to know that it’s okay to fail, and that it’s normal to feel sad, anxious, or angry. They learn to succeed by overcoming obstacles, not by having you remove them.” In addition, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, professor of psychology at Temple University notes, “It’s particularly important for young children to have the chance to play and take risks without feeling that their parents will criticize or correct them for doing something wrong.” She even encourages parents to make their own little mistakes on purpose. “Seeing you mess up and not make a big deal about it will make little kids feel so much better,” she adds.
  3. Let your child make decisions
    When your child gets the chance to develop their own voice and make choices from a young age, he’ll gain confidence in his own good judgment. Of course, kids love to have a say in everything that they do, but having too much control can be overwhelming; it’s best to give your child two or three options to choose from. When they are able to have limits, it is easier for them to make a decision that they feel good about.
  4. Improve your own confidence
    A child’s self-esteem is acquired, not inherited. Children build their self-esteem through their experiences with their family and their outside world. If you suffer from low self-confidence, especially if you feel it’s a result of how you were parented, take steps to heal yourself. Remember we are our children’s first and best role models.

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