All children experience stress – it’s a natural part of growing. But to prevent trauma, children need to feel they have the adult support and safety they need to try new things. You can help your child build resiliency by giving them the comfort and explanations that allow them to deal with, and learn from, the everyday stresses associated with growing up. Use words, touch, and attention to make your young child feel safe. When they experience something stressful, let them know they are not alone, that they are not to blame, and that you’ll keep them safe. If you do observe signs of stress in your young children, give them the help they need to overcome it by:
- offering reassurance, both verbally and physically,
- making the child feel safe and secure,
- answering their questions in language they can understand,
- sticking to regular routines and schedules,
- helping them find the words to express their feelings,
- doing more to make them feel relaxed and have fun,
- being consistent about boundaries and limits, and
- being loving and affectionate.
If you believe your child is experiencing trauma, be sure to seek out professionals with specific experience working with children between the ages of 0 and 5. You can also find some helpful tools from Zero to Three and from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundation of Early Learning, Vanderbilt University.