Whether you are a parent or a teacher, there are 5 things you could be doing right now to help a child who has been shaken by a crisis, too much stress, or trauma. The goal is always to restore a greater sense of balance and ease in the child’s nervous system so he or she can be fully present to learn and behave adaptively. 1) Foster a compassionate RELATIONSHIP that communicates, “We will get through this together.” 2) Create relative SAFETY with consistent rules and regulations that are posted and/or reviewed with clear rewards and consequences that the child can come to predict. Safety comes from predictability. 3) Involve the child in COMMUNITY, a place where they feel they belong, where they matter and have chances to start over anew no matter what. 4) Provide the child with multiple opportunities to experience their own COMPETENCE. What they feel good at doesn’t matter, just that they feel good doing something, i.e. playing a game, making someone laugh, helping someone, making something from scratch, learning something new, teaching something to a younger child, getting a chance to show off a talent, skill, ability, athletic, artistic, or intellectual accomplishment. 5) Support SENSORY AWARENESS by talking to and engaging the child in noticing the sensations that are happening in his or her body, where they are tight, tense, relaxed, calm, shaky, or warm. The body is speaking to us to let us know when we need to take care of ourselves. If you learn to do this for yourself first, you will be able to pass on to your child one of the most important resources of all (please read “Why Students Underachieve: What Educators and Parents Can Do about It” to learn why all of this is so important.)
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