Children with ACEs find “resiliency” because an adult provides a safe environment – in which they feel known, validated.
So that means that the most important thing adults can do is to manage their own stuff.
Self-regulation by adults is a first step to help kids self-regulate themselves. Kids do best when the adults around them have strong stress management skills.
If we are caught in our own story of intergenerational trauma, we can’t see the kids we hope to help for who they are. They can’t be seen or known. They can’t be secure. We can’t soothe them because we are caught in trying to soothe ourselves.
So again, the best thing we can do for the children we care for is to manage our own stuff. Adults who’ve resolved their own trauma help kids feel safe.
In my book, Childhood Disrupted, I lay out a number of steps we can take with children. I have devoted a whole section of the book to it. It’s so important!
These include ways to help make sure kids feel seen, known and validated, and scripts to help communicate with kids so that they feel safe, seen and known – while still imposing limits -- when we ourselves are feeling really stress- reactive.
One of these is to make sure that when we make a mistake, we make a repair. The sooner you make a repair, the less likely it is that an unhappy memory will “stick.”
When you are wrong, and admit it, child’s fear center of the brain – amygdala – stops lighting up! It calms down, promoting resiliency.
For example, if you over-react you might say, “I raised my voice and that might have scared you; I wish I hadn’t done that.”
If you lose your cool, or say or do the wrong thing, make a repair!
“I lost it and I wish I hadn’t said that; I’m sorry.”
You can apologize – and still impose limits!
“I am sorry that you are upset. It’s hard not to get your way. Our rule, as you know, is _________, and there are consequences for that.”
Again, I give entire lectures on ways in which we can help our children, based on my book – you can find much more in the book, in which I have an entire chapter devoted to raising resilient children and helping kids thrive.
I'm on a mission to help every individual who experienced childhood adversity have everything they need at their fingertips to help heal from the past, and for every home to be #trauma free, and every kid grow up #ACE free.
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