Over the course of 2020, we’ve all found ourselves in unexpected and difficult circumstances. For many, these experiences were traumatic. Circumstances beyond our control may have resulted in loss of a loved one, forced evacuation from home, or removal of the security found in familiar routines. These types of experiences may have left us and our kids with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms that can be triggered at any time. When people think of “trauma,” they don’t often realize the host of sensory repercussions that it can have, but many types of sensory solutions can have a beneficial impact on PTSD in kids. Here are several ways to help.

Not Everything Needs to be Verbal

When kids are having a difficult time expressing themselves verbally, nonverbal activities can be a great outlet for emotions. Drawing and other arts and crafts have been shown to enable people to have conversations about tough subjects, particularly about a traumatic experience. Try spending some time drawing together, letting your kids speak when they feel ready. 

Attributing the fearful or negative emotions to a made-up character can also be a great way for kids to talk about their own emotions. Encourage them to tell a story about how their character feels, and then respond.

Find Comfort in Routines

Trauma often results in an upended routine, which contributes to  experiences of PTSD. As happened this past year, schools were closed down. For many kids this meant a lapse in special needs services and a subsequent regression in behaviors or skills. Perhaps your family had to evacuate their home because of wildfires on the West Coast. Even for families who didn’t relocate, dens were transformed into home offices and bedrooms were appropriated for remote learning. Unfamiliar environments often make it difficult to sleep well, which in turn can lead to mood swings and a messed up daily routine.

Sticking to a normal routine as much as possible reassures kids that life as they knew it is not gone forever. Routines are a great way to practice self-regulation and other coping skills, as you and your kids handle uncertain situations. Incorporate extra time to cope with this new normal. Giving your kids the space to understand what is happening and process it will be a big step in improving their ability to emotionally self-regulate.

Keep Stress Relievers Handy

Finding the best way to soothe someone who is feeling anxious is easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tools and activities to find what works best for your kids! Weighted blankets and our Sloth Heavy Hugger provide deep pressure input that sends calming signals throughout the body. Kids can easily carry the Sloth around with them wherever they go, and the blankets are perfect for cool evenings together on the couch.

You can keep a small stash of RolleaseTM in your purse or pocket so that you’re prepared anytime your kids need a bit of active stimulation to destress. Sometimes a special scent, such as a mother’s perfume, or favorite blanket can be a powerful tool for soothing nervous kids. If you’re traveling, try rubbing a bit of the perfume on a jacket or cutting a small corner of fabric from the blanket to bring along.

Recovering from trauma is never an easy task. The healing process looks different for everyone; take the time to listen to your kids and give them more room to process the event and their emotions. Pairing sensory solutions with other forms of help can positively impact your kids’ ability to bounce back. We’re always here to help find the best solutions for you and your family, so don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected]