Supporting Kids with Complex Trauma

  1. Identify trauma triggers. Make a list of trauma triggers. The primary goal is to make children who have experienced trauma feel safe and loved. In order to create a safe environment, understand what environments might trigger trauma. Troubling behaviors related to trauma should be nurtured and not punished.
  2. Validate pain. A major problem in America, and across the globe, is that when a person is suffering from mental illness or emotional pain, very often their pain is invalidated with words of support such as push through it, get over it, it’s all in your head, etc. Validating that a person’s struggles and pain are real is the first steps in helping a trouble child. Start by listening and giving your full undivided attention while using clarifying questions and rephrases like am I hearing you correctly when you state…, I can see you are feeling…, etc.
  3. Create safe spaces
    >> Attending school is a safeguard for kids. They go to school, they get their medication and meals, they go throughout their day, and then go home. Medication compliance and meals, that a parent or guardian who might not be up for the challenge, becomes less of an issue.
    >> Make a trusty tool box — that’s exactly what it is! A box full of familiar and trustworthy items that make a child feel safe and secure. It also becomes an alert to a parent or guardian that this child needs additional loving support when he or she goes to play with the items in the box. It’s the child’s non- verbal way to express his or her need for nurturing. Pack a little box, make it special with comforting toys and such that will allow the child escape for a moment and provide immediate situational relief.
    >> A social story is a way to prepare a child for the next steps. A lot of
    kids learn and feel most comfortable by receiving familiar and repetitious directions. These in-advance instructions and conversations provide a detailed outline about what to expect in an upcoming journey, whether it be a doctor’s appointment or helping a child to navigate a social situation. When new situations and settings are explained in advance and made to appear familiar to the child, because it has been explained verbally or has been shown via pictures or diagrams, it sets the stage for a comfortable setting and more successful outcome.



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Catholic Charities Family and Community Services

Catholic Charities Family and Community Services


CCFCS is the largest provider of family services in the Rochester, NY area, addressing issues of need across all stages of life. See more: