Summer and holidays often provide
opportunities for families to get together.
My experiences with family over the course of this Summer, reminded me
of some important attachment principles that help us with the little traumas we
experience throughout life. I have an
uncle who loves to share the funny- no, hilarious- story when I was knee high sitting in a jumping swing suspended from the
redwood beams that spanned the family room of my grandparents’ home. This is a story that seems to be repeated
every year and I am constantly told how adorable, precious and chubby I was. This story and many others like them get
relatives laughing, but I have come to realize that more than the topic of the
story is the energy behind the story that makes the difference and affects me
and those listening. I know that my uncle
loves and cherishes me. It is this
reminder that has made me realize that everyone has a story to tell and most of
us want to tell it.
Allowing a child to tell their story is one of
the basic tenets that Steele and Raider mention in their book “The Structured
Sensory Interventions”. This citation
from trauma researchers is used in treating trauma in children. The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in
Children (TLC) understands and confirms through neuroscience that trauma is
experienced in the deep affective and survival areas of the brain where there
are only sensations, emotionally conditioned memories, and visual images.
It has been my experience that children and
adolescents want someone else to tell stories about them – those wonderful,
embarrassing, funny, silly stories that mean someone loves them more than life
itself. But there are too many children
who do not have a cherishing adult in their lives. Traumatized, abused, or neglected children
often do not have anyone who tells tender, loving stories about them, and they
desperately need it. Through the use of creative
storytelling and art mediums, children are able to express their traumatic
experiences and begin the healing process.
The following are a few fairly easy examples for teachers, coaches,
counselors and family members to demonstrate cherishing as a way to help
children, adolescents and each other experience a healing process for their
little wounds from varied traumatic experiences.
A second-grade teacher can tell
the third grade teacher a sweet, tender story about Johnny. Make sure it is super positive, as Johnny is
often sensitive and always listening!
A counselor can share with the
counseling group a funny but loving moment about Susan that happened during a
previous group meeting. Make sure you
get Susan’s permission to share; she’ll probably love it.
A coach can recount a great
athletic play that Roberto accomplished to “win the game”.
A parent can be mindful and share
some moments of adoration and praise with a relative, friend or colleague.
Be prepared to not only cherish but to be
cherished – for a child or family member to tell a funny (and probably
embarrassing) story about YOU. They may tell another child, the church, a
class or their best friends parents about the time you were monitoring the
middle school dance and showing off your awesome 80’s moves when you fell on
your butt! Be prepared to laugh at
yourself and remember that this behavior means that the child and others are
learning the art of cherishing. And they
chose to cherish you – what an honor!
Cherishing and being cherishedStructured Sensory Interventions For Traumatized Children and Adolescents: Strategies to Alleviate Trauma William Steele and Melvin Raider; 2001 Lewiston, NY by Edwin Mellen Press