When you are caring for a child who has experienced trauma such as abuse or neglect, it is easy to focus much of your energy on addressing difficult behaviors or moments of revving and re-experiencing. It is important to have a plan for these crisis moments when a child has been triggered by their traumatic past. It is also critical to spend time working on promoting emotional regulation.
A child is in a regulated state when they are managing their moods and behaviors effectively and are generally feeling “okay.” While some periods of regulation happen naturally, we as caring adults can promote further periods of regulation as a way to reduce the likelihood of a traumatic response.
Here is a useful tip for promoting regulation: make a list of fun and positive activities — the longer the better. Below is a list of ideas to get you started. Plan for at least one per day. Some children need more and the number of activities may vary.
Ways to Have a Fun, Positive Day
Take 5 minutes of “me” time
Listen to music
Read a book/magazine
Write in a personal journal
Do relaxation breathing
Practice meditation or prayer
Talk to a family member
Watch a movie/TV show