‘Trauma’ is the word we use to explain experiences which are frightening and harmful – this could be the death of a loved one, bullying at school, a health scare or accident, or abuse and neglect. All of us will experience trauma of some sort in our lives to some degree.
The important thing is learning how to deal with trauma in ways that make us stronger. I am less able to control my feelings so really need the adults around me to help me learn how to deal with trauma.
When I have a bad or scary experience it is extremely frightening and my body overwhelms me.
I need to talk about it to understand why the bad thing happened, but don’t necessarily know how to. That’s why I love it when my adults recognise my feelings and help me to feel safe and calm. Then I can forget the bad thing and go back to enjoying my time at home, at school and with friends.
If I don’t have an adult to help me make sense of a bad or scary experience this can be terribly frightening. I feel desperately alone and very stressed. If this lasts for a long time over weeks, months or years, it can become something called ‘toxic stress’.
When I experience toxic stress I can’t do anything other than cope with being scared. That stops me having time to enjoy anything else – like fun times at home, learning at school, or playing with other children.
I need to know you are there to help me make sense of bad things, in my own time and in ways that help me.
When I want to talk about something upsetting please listen and try and answer my questions. But do not force me if I would prefer not to – I will do so in my own time.
Remember that what may not seem so serious to you as an adult might be really troubling me. So please take me seriously when I need to be reassured.