EPIC Blog: Interrupting Trauma with Positive Experiences - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: Interrupting Trauma with Positive Experiences

May 1st, 2020 l Author: Mariana Caro, LCSW

While we try to do everything in our power to protect our kids from experiencing difficult things, it is impossible to have a completely pain free life here on this earth. Painful experiences, sad moments, and maybe even trauma may occur, however, there are many ways to help a child through these moments in such a way that they don’t become traumatized by their trauma. We can interrupt trauma by being present with our kids’ feelings, questions, thoughts, concerns, and perspectives in painful seasons. We can interrupt trauma by engaging in positive childhood experiences, by connecting with them, by being able to remain present when our impulse may be to take their pain away. They are already experiencing the pain and the trauma; the question is, are they experiencing it alone or with you?

It’s okay to talk about the pain; it’s okay to be honest about how hard the experiences may be. By validating these truths, you increase connection and you communicate that you are a safe place to go to in adversity. Once that connection is made, you can also incorporate fun as a way to reduce the effects of trauma. Play together whenever possible – for children, play is their language and toys are their words (Dr. Garry Landreth). Play disarms fear and it creates positive connections in the brain. So play games, structured and unstructured. Allow space for creativity, for messiness, for embarrassing silliness. We may not be able to completely protect our kids from having painful experiences, but we can minimize the negative effects by leaning in and sitting in the pain with them. For many of us, this feels uncomfortable, vulnerable, maybe even counterproductive. We tend to be quick to move away from hard things and to try to minimize the feelings that come with difficult experiences.

But here’s the truth – you can do hard things and so can your children. Trauma will not break them if they go through it while connected to a safe and nurturing adult. The goal is not to do things perfectly, to have the right answers, to fix the problems. Instead, the goal is to do what you can to allow yourself to be emotionally present with your children. Be kind to yourself. Your presence really is enough. And those bad experiences can be changed to good experiences.