Children do not arrive with a manual!
Below is a video to help you understand secure attachment, how to read your child’s behaviour, and how to support them, to re-enforce their sense of security.
Circle of Security Animation by Circle of Security International
Signs of Trauma and Risky Behaviours
Unexplained cuts, bruises, or cigarette burns - usually on the wrists, arms, thighs, and chest.
Keeping themselves always covered, even in hot weather.
Pulling out their hair, plucking out eyebrows or eye lashes.
Alcohol or drugs misuse.
Self-loathing and expressing a wish to punish themselves.
Speaking about not wanting to go on and wishing to end it all.
Becoming very withdrawn and not speaking to others.
Changes in eating habits or being secretive about eating.
Unusual weight loss or weight gain.
Signs of low self-esteem, such as blaming themselves for any problems or thinking they are not good enough for something.
Signs of depression, such as low mood, tearfulness or a lack of motivation or interest in anything.
After an episode of being in a stress response, your child will feel tired which can last for a few hours. Go with this, make them warm and comfortable and let them relax. Your child will be exhausted from being in a stress response, provide them with the space and time for them to re-regulate. They may need a nap or a comfy place on the sofa to just relax, maybe you can sit with them and cuddle them.
Company No: 11080543.
Registered Charity No. 1189120.
Registered Address: 60 Sutton Street,
Flore, NN7 4LE.
T: 07495 539 611 E: email@example.com
COOKIES and PRIVACY
You maybe the parent, carer or a family member but for ease, within the content of this page, we are referring to you as the parent.
This page is to support you and your child through the impact of understanding trauma and then, providing differing ways to overcome the emotional, behavioural, and psychological effects of the trauma.
This page is planned so that there are clear sections which focus on the areas which are the most common themes experienced in children who have experienced trauma. You will identify which themes your child experiences.
With support, some CandYP will recover from their experience of trauma within a few weeks or a few months, for some, their symptoms will continue for a longer period and will therefore require your continued support to promote their healing process.
The most important source of support is from their family, which is why this website is involving you the parent in the healing process and providing you with the tools to support your child.
For a child to heal, they need to feel safe, loved, believed, and accepted for how they are feeling and responding from their trauma.
Please support your children by working through the children and young people pages together. Star will help guide you through the children's page.
Let us begin together.
Our five senses are triggers to your child re-experiencing the trauma which in turn may cause emotional and behavioural responses. This can be when your child becomes emotionally dysregulated and unable to manage their emotions and therefore their responses; what a child see’s, hears, smells, tastes, or touches are potential triggers, examples:
Your child may see a person who resembles a person involved in the trauma
A song may remind your child of the trauma, or a noise inside or outside of the home, a car horn, or a siren for instance
A smell associated with the trauma will create a reminder, such as the smell of smoke
The breakfast cereal eaten before the trauma could be a trigger
The feel of a texture could remind them of being in the incident, the feel of sand, grass or even the fur on a pet
Your child has little control over these triggers and responses.
Whilst working through their trauma, you can support your child through these times by using strategies to re-regulate your child.
You as the parent must be emotionally regulated, if you are upset or frustrated, your child will not be able to regulate themselves as you are their safe base, they will respond to their experience of you.
Speak to your child with a warm tone.
Tell them that you are there, that you love them, you are there to help and that you will keep them safe.
That need to feel safe in the environment they are in, their home, other family members homes, school/college, shops, etc.
Firm and consistent boundaries, such as bedtimes, brushing teeth, breakfast/dinner times etc.
To have contact only with caring family members and friends that they feel safe with.
Helpful reading for Parents/carers:
The Simple Guide to Child Trauma by Betsy De Thierry and Illustrated by Emma Reeves
Freeze, Flee, Flight, or Friends? by Sharena Walker and Illustrated by Laurah Grijalva
A Child’s Response to Threat:
When anyone feels under threat or experiencing a reminder of when they felt under threat, as humans we move into a “freeze position” whilst the brain decides which move is best for our survival. Hormones are released to prepare us to run and take “flight” away from the threat, to “fight” which means to scream and physically respond to the threat, or to remain in “freeze”, as this is the best way to survive. When we move into a response from a threat, our brain shifts from using our cognitive brain to our primal brain where we are unable to process and make decisions. When you child fears that the bad thing may happen again, or that they are being remined of the bad thing, they will go into a stress response of fight/flight/freeze. There is a film to explain this to your child within their page. As a parent, you can help your child by enabling them to re-regulate and moving away from the stress response:
Sports bottle; when sucking a sports bottle, the brain regulates taking the unconscious brain back to being breast or bottle fed and feeling nurtured.Play-doh; anything sensory will enable your child to re-regulate, the movement of the doh between their hands, the sensory motion regulates.Using colours to describe feelings, sharing what is going on for them promotes regulation as well as talking which is using the cognitive brain.Colouring; choosing colours and the task of drawing requires the cognitive brain. Colouring is also distracting your child from the memory.Star jumps count with your child as they jump. Counting uses the cognitive brain, this pulls your child from the stress response.Tumble dry sheets/wet wipes, the smell is sensory and will remind your child of nurturing. Be guided by your knowledge of what smells would be best for your child.Foam soap; this again is sensory. Use the sink or a large bowl, let them squeeze the foam soap and mould it in their hands.Emotion cards, they can point to how they feel if they are unable to find the words.Therapeutic books (which are included in the children’s page), sit close to your child and read together, this is nurturing.Puzzles; such as dot to dot, mazes or jigsaw puzzles. These use the cognitive brain so puts the brain back online and pulling your child from the stress response.Games; play any game with your child, your closeness, your tone and using their cognitive brain will re-regulate.Soothing; a cuddle, rocking, putting your child in a blanket and enabling them to feel warm, safe, cared for and loved.A safe place; agreeing a safe place for them to calm down. This can be a tent, their room, or a quiet space somewhere in the home.
If your child is really struggling, try a breathing competition sitting opposite each other. Say you are going to blow them down, then say they have to try and blow you down. Take turns. In a short time, your child will become regulated.
This is the same technique as adults use when having a panic attack and breathing into a bag.
Watch the video below to help you understand some language which will support you to calm your anxious child in times when they are not feeling emotionally of physically regulated:
ANXIETY | Top phrases for calming anxious children by Pooky Knightsmith Mental Health