One day my son came back home with a massive scrape on his knee resulting from a bike fall. My initial focus was to clean up the wound and support his calm state. After about an hour, when all seemed to be “under control” I’ve noticed his body going through light tremors and felt his nervous system discharging (I’m a craniosacral therapist so I sense other’s somatic responses). He also felt cold and queasy.It is of huge importance to not dismiss these signs.
A child can be traumatized by seemingly benign events and is capable of covering it up as to not cause trouble to mom and dad. Always watch their body, look for slight tremors, jumpiness, queasiness. Here are steps you might want to follow:
1. Tend to your own feelings – acknowledge all that’s going on emotionally within you and establish internal sense of balance.
2. Provide quiet and still environment – this means no additional NS stimulation. If the child experiences shivers, cover them with blanket (this reaction can be observed when the initial adrenaline level goes down)
3. Create space for your child to rest – creating a safe space is the KEY to tending to trauma. Without the safety, the body will not get into its natural release process. Do not offer excessive patting or rocking as it might interfere with the child’s natural responses. Create stillness with your presence (find a part of you that is still, unmovable and expand it)
4. Gently guide the child’s attention to his/her somatic experience – start with “what are you feeling in your body?” and see where he/she’ll lead with that. Allow for moments of silence between the questions. It’s the time for your child to connect with their body, speech is just helpful in directing the attention.
5. Validate your child’s somatic feelings – be awesomely ok with all they’re expressing. If you feel their body going into the tremor, encourage the feelings of safety. I find the best position for that is to let them lie down with legs bent and feet together. This helps the psoas release. The shaking can be quite major, we’re talking of movements as wide as 4 inch radius. That is awesome. After some shaking they may feel tired. Encourage them to rest.
Follow up with checking in on how are they emotionally. SHAKING is a healthy and desirable response during which the nervous system is allowed to release the emotional shock from the body and be done with it for good. This is very important, because when tending to trauma right away, you’re preventing it from getting entrenched. Remember, even small events can be traumatic to a child. Always watch what their body is communicating to you.
- Based on my craniosacral experience and the go-to trauma book “Waking The Tiger” by Peter A. Levine.