How to Help Heal Trauma
Experiences in Resilience Are Key To Healing Trauma
My youngest had a skiing accident in January of 2023 that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Recovery was slow, but in January 2024 we practiced our final step of healing. Not from the bodily injury which luckily they have recovered from, but from the emotional one. The traumatic one. We returned to where the accident happened and we tried skiing again.
There were times when my child felt scared, but we talked and hugged and I encouraged them to move past their fear to experience what they were capable of because I knew they were ready for this. And then we went slow and we skied together.
In short we had a lesson in resilience.
And 3 hours later I couldn’t pull my child off the hill because they were having so much fun. And they were no longer skiing close to me, they wanted to do it on their own. They had experienced so much confidence building.
But the best part as a parent was that my child experienced resilience. That sometimes in life, bad things happen. But it does not mean it stays like that forever. They can overcome their fears and teach their body a new experience that helps to override the old. In short, they can help themselves heal their trauma.
When you want to have a similar lesson in resilience with your child, do the following:
1. Make sure you acknowledge and validate their feelings
Your child’s body is trying to keep them safe based on their past experience so it can produce some big and overwhelming feelings. Don’t gloss over those feelings, help your child to recognize them and where they may be coming from. And help them to co-regulate so those feelings don’t feel so overwhelming.
2. Help your child by letting them borrow your confidence
Your child will have doubts about trying something they feel is too hard or too scary. This is natural. Your job is to let them know you have confidence in them and that you believe they are ready so they can begin to believe it as well.
3. Go slow
It’s not about conquering it all. It is about helping your child stretch their tolerance while making them successful. Let them help guide the pace. Sometimes that means it is a small step in the direction of healing. And that is just fine. Keep having them take those small steps and they will get there.
The truth is my goal was to get my child back out to the same hill and onto skis. I was planning to spend the entire time on the bunny hill with them. And I was prepared to take a lot of breaks in the chalet.
And that approach gave my child the chance to set their pace. It was my child that wanted to slowly do more and begin doing the bigger runs. Which is why it was so impactful because my child was leading their own trauma healing.
While trauma itself is never fully erased from the body, your goal is to create an experience to overshadow it. Something to remember if past trauma sparks an emotional response. Because that will happen from time to time with trauma. But the more experiences in resilience you can support, the more your child will be able to better manage their trauma response.