Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Tools and Words for Reducing Anxiety in Children (Part 2: Verbal First Aid)

on October 2, 2013

In the Part 1:  Changing Old Stories, I wrote about using Matrix Reimprinting to change how your child sees old events.   When old traumas continue to affect our children, Matrix Reimprinting is the tool to use.

In this post, I offer suggestions for speaking gently and minimizing the effects of trauma on the scene and in the moment.

When our children get hurt, the words we say can initiate healing or exacerbate the trauma.

Consider these three possible responses when a child falls and scrapes a knee.  (The examples for this article are taken from the outstanding book, Verbal First Aid by Judith Simon Prager, PhD and Judith Acosta, LISW, CHT.)

Response 1

“Oh, no! Look at you! You’re bleeding, oh, my poor, poor baby! Are you okay? Does it hurt a lot?”

Response 2

“You’re all right. Buck up, buddy. It’s not that bad.”

Response 3

“Oh, you’ve fallen and your knee is bleeding.  See what a good job your blood is doing cleaning out that cut.  Now you can even use your mind to stop your bleeding.  We’ll wash it off and put a bandage on, and you’ll be surprised at how fast it will start to feel better.”

What are your words teaching your child?

We cannot know definitively what a particular child will learn from each of those responses since each child is different.  Each already has a bank of experiences and his own temperament.    Here are some possible learnings:

  • Response 1 teaches the child that seeing blood is cause for alarm. His body will respond by creating chemicals that impede healing.

  • Response 2 teaches the child that his feelings are not valid and that he should not cry or express pain.

  • Response 3 teaches self-confidence and initiates the healing process.

The words we say in those first moments can set the course for both physical and emotional recovery.

When children are injured, they are particulariy susceptible to influence.

What We Think = How We Feel = How We Heal

Science has demonstrated that words, thoughts, images and memories generate an instantaneous cascade of chemicals, causing a physiological reaction within us.  This reaction is most pronounced when we are scared or in pain.  Our breathing gets faster, our hearts race, we sweat or freeze or run.

What we think can throw us into this flight-flight-freeze response – or initiate healing.  Since we cannot hold two thoughts simultaneously, presenting our children with a positive scenario can pull them out of the panic place to a place of peace.

Building Rapport:  Believability and Credibility

Using words that are honest and authentic will build credibility with our children.  We want our children to recognize the truth.

Saying, “Everything is fine” when neither you nor your child believe it can be damaging.  Instead, state what you see and use the knowledge and wisdom you possess to uplift and support your child.

For example, if your child is seriously injured and you don’t know what to do, try this:

Take a deep breath to calm yourself.  Use a gentle tone and say, “I’m right here.  You can relax now.  Let’s figure out what we need to do next . . .”

For extensive scripts and protocols for burns, cuts, bruises, getting stitches and much more please read the book, “Verbal First Aid.”

Verbal First Aid for Non-Verbal Children

Even if your child is non-verbal, using words in the way described in this article will be helpful.  By changing how we speak, we shift our feelings.  Children will respond to our tone and energy and gain confidence.

Super-Easy Homeopathic First Aid

Like Verbal First Aid, homeopathic remedies support the body in healing itself emotionally and physically.  I always carry the remedies described in this article.  Having homeopathic remedies with me has saved the day for my family many times.  If you don’t want to buy them all, buy arnica and prepare to be amazed at the rate of healing.

Reference

Highly recommended!

Verbal First Aid: Help Your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain–and Come Out Strong

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