Hands on Coping Activities for Kids With Trauma. Try Implementing These 5 Tips on a Daily Basis or Add Them to Your Regular Routine as-needed Basis.
As promised here are some hands-on activities to do with your kids to help with coping. These activities will help with general stress and frustration for kids, as well as for trauma, and are great for adults as well. Practice is the important part.
Most of us aren’t used to doing these things on a regular basis so they will feel uncomfortable for both you and your kids.How you accept and practice them individually will be the deciding factor as to whether your children will do well or feel uncomfortable too.
Doing these as a family is the BEST way to start this practice. Not only will you get the benefits of the activities but your relationship connections will be strengthened as well.
Try implementing these on a daily basis and add them to your regular routine or on an as-needed basis. Both are fantastic. Remember some of these will take practice and may be met with arguments. Children (and some adults) typically dislike being uncomfortable or doing hard things. Stick with it! Soon you’ll see changes in your family and yourself. It’s worth it!
This is a distraction method that works great with tantrums and panic attacks. It moves the thought processes to the logic parts of the brain. It’s extremely simple to use. Ask them a logical question “what color is the wall?” For self-regulation, you could look for a series of things until they’ve calmed down.
Example: Go through the alphabet for animals A-Z OR 5 blue item, 4 red items, 3 green items, 2 yellow, and then 1 purple. For children, they need to know their colors and shapes or alphabets. For little guys asking “where’s my nose?” Or feet, mouth, hands would work too.
There are a variety of meditation techniques that you can choose from. Consist practice makes this a more familiar strategy and will be extremely effective at helping rewire the brain towards healthier processes and functioning and other benefits.
Example: Start with a breathing meditation- just sitting and focusing on your breathing. This is a good one for beginners and kids. Focus on feeling the breath in your belly and feeling it go out your nostrils and in through the back of your throat. Start with 5 minutes and then increase to what feels best as you get comfortable.
This is fantastic sensory information and works in many different ways. The exercise releases endorphins and gets the blood pumping. The motion assists the lymphatic system. Jumping requires and forces a lot of balance work along with crossing the midline increasing the cross connections in the brain and exercises the self-sensing mechanism in the brain that’s weakened by trauma.
Examples: Jumping rope- easy to put in an emergency kit, can be used for lots of different jumping games. There are a lot of jump rope songs that will help with creating a rhythm, which is also supportive to recovering the natural rhythms of the body and life. So type a few songs and rhymes up to put in your kit as well. Hope scotch is another great jumping game and only requires chalk. Trampolines and great if available
This addresses emotional expression and the processing of those thoughts and feelings that make up our persecution. Psychologists have found journaling to be just as effective or more so than talking to a person or therapist. Consistency is the big key. Writing can often come much easier than talking when emotions are involved. All you need is pen and notebook, so be sure you have them in your Emergency kit as well. For small children drawing is an effective journaling technique and may help them find words to have a conversation based off of those drawings with you. You can write what they tell you or just talk with them. Any topic is fine.
This technique connects the mind and body together and addresses the physical effects of the stress response.
Examples: 5 finger breathing- trace the fingers on your hand, as you go up you breathe in and you go down the finger breath out. Keep a slow steady pace. If needed trace it backward until calm. Another option is breath in for three counts, hold for three, breath out for 3, and hold for three. Do this at least three times or until you feel calm. In teaching kids, doing it together is very helpful.
Hugs are Underrated!
Hugs with a good squeeze can act like a weighted blanket. The pressure has a calming effect on overactive nerves and leveling them. It also releases endorphins which everyone can use more of, stress or no stress. We have a “bear hug” ritual. Big squeeze (little kids grunt with the right pressure and think the involuntary sound is fun) and then I have them return the squeeze back (I fake the sound so they feel strong).
In the Preparedness Fair presentation, I talked about yoga and acupressure points. After careful though I’ve decided these are best addressed in separate posts so stay tuned for more strategies for coping.
I’ll also have more in the coming months on helping develop emotional awareness in your kids. I look forward to sharing this and hearing how it helps you and your family. If there’s anything else you’ve found that are helpful for you or your kids in coping with stress and trauma, we would love to hear it!
Tyra’s presentation with hands on coping activities for kids with trauma is available on this Facebook Live link. Other posts in the Trauma Series: 10 Facts about trauma and kids and 10 reasons to understand trauma