WHAT CAN WE DO AS CHURCHES TO HELP TRAUMATISED CHILDREN?
1. Recognise the signs of trauma
We can learn about the symptoms of trauma in children and young people so that we can recognise when a child is needing some extra support. By understanding the impact of trauma we can have the language that stops any negative reinforcement that can often be a typical response to challenging behaviour. When we know that no child wants to be naughty and every child wants to be affirmed and loved, then we can be curious and not furious and we can ask what happened rather than work out punishments, use negative labels or get frustrated.
When we know that no child wants to be naughty and every child wants to be affirmed and loved, then we can be curious and not furious.
2. Work with the parent /carer
When we know that a child has been traumatised then we can make some extra preparation to enable them to feel safe. It's worth asking the parent or carer if their school is doing anything specific to help the child feel safe. Do they have a peace corner, a safe place, a special cushion, toy or self-regulation board? What does the school do or what does the parent or carer suggest?
Do they have a pEace corner, a safe place, a special cushion, toy or self regulation board?
3. Work hard to help every child feel safe and loved
Traumatised children can struggle to accept love and care when they have been hurt by another adult. But as you try and work out how to care for them by asking those who are in their world and asking them, they will be grateful even if they don’t look like they are. We often hear from adults who remember adults who they were mean to, but who gave them hope for their future.
4. Work with your safeguarding officer
There can often be comments, behaviour and other things that may make you concerned. Always take safeguarding seriously and follow your safeguarding procedure. It is so important that children not only feel safe but are safe at church. Every comment and action that worries you needs to be told to the safeguarding officer at your church who needs to communicate with the local safeguarding social workers.
It is so important that children not only feel safe but are safe at church
5. Let the parent/carer know of any specialist trauma recovery help
If you know of any specialist trauma recovery psychotherapy/ play therapy/ art therapy or music therapy provision then do recommend that to the parent or carer. When they are young it is so much easier to facilitate healing from trauma as the brain is more malleable. Do some research and maybe see if the church can contribute to the costs. It will change their life.
6. Go the extra mile if you can
When a child is traumatised it can be the little things that can make a difference. For example if you remember the name of their soft toy or doll or you remember that they had a party last week or were in an assembly. You may be the only adult who remembers those details and this can makes them feel known and cared for. Always say hi and give them a high five if you see them at church - it should never be only if you are ‘on the rota that week’!
Always say hi and give them a high five if you see them at church - it should never be only if you are 'on the rota that week'!
7. Never give up hope
Traumatised children need someone to believe the best for them and know that they can overcome what they have experienced and be all that God has made them to be. Always intentionally speak well and confidently about the child’s skills and gifts and make sure they hear. Speak to them, and speak about them when they may well be listening! We need to be the hope carriers for a lot of families as they endure such tough things that drain them of emotional energy.
Traumatised children need someone to believe the best for them and know that they can overcome what they have experienced and be all that God has made them to be
We can pray for these children. We can pray that they know God’s strength, that the plans and purposes that God has planned for them will come to fruition, that God will bless their relationships, school life, emotions and mind. Pray for their future, their future relationships and career. We know prayer makes a difference and it is an honour to pray for those in our care.