No one likes the feeling of "helplessness" when our children are in pain. As a parent myself, I have been there before and it feels bad. When my daughter was 6 weeks old, she was running a 104 temperature and my husband and I had to rush her to the emergency room for treatment. It was scary. I honestly did not know what to do for her. I was sad and angry that this was happening. All I wanted to do was take away her pain. As the doctors told me that she would have to have a lumbar puncture to see if she had meningitides I broke into tears. It was at that moment that I knew I had to do something. I realized that I was not as helpless as I imagined. I had "Choices!" I chose to have a specialist come down to the emergency room to evaluate her before the emergency doctor who was not trained in pediatrics did the procedure. I had a choice to call my parents to pick up my son, so my husband and I could stay with my daughter. I did not want my son to be traumatized by what was happening.
I had choices. I made them and I did not feel helpless anymore. It turned out that my daughter had RSV and made a full recovery.
My point in sharing my story with you today, is to let you know that when trauma strikes, "We always have CHOICES" to make as parents. None of us want to see our children in emotional or physical pain. However, we are also not "Super" parents. We feel frustrated, confused, angry and sad when someone hurts teases or abuses our children.
We want to erase all of the pain they are feeling as soon as possible, as much for them as for ourselves. The truth is that many times as parents:
"We cannot take away our child's pain immediately but we can make CHOICES to find ways to help them heal from the pain over time"
If you have a child who is in emotional pain, make the choice to start helping him or her today. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Ask for help. If you do not know where to turn to for help, call someone who may. The most frustrating thing for parents sometimes, is where to turn to help a child through trauma. Also, if you need help seek it as well. You are no help to your children if you are depressed. Process your emotions and then start talking to them.
2. Talk about what has happened or is happening but do not push. Let the child steer the conversation. If they back off, let them. Revisit it again later.
3. Do not underestimate your child's awareness of the traumatic events. Even though he/she may not talk about it, he/she knows what happened. Answer questions in language they can understand.
4. Be honest. Say, "Healing takes time but I am here to help you."
Remember “Life can return to normal, however, after trauma, it may be a different normal."