Resilience. In the natural world, resilience means that something is able to spring back into its shape after something causes it to momentarily change its shape. Like the elasticity of a palm tree in a storm, it sways and almost bends and touches the ground, but eventually springs back into a straight palm tree.


Resilience is a bit different when it comes to people and adversity. People may go through a storm too but will not usually come out of the storm the same. They will change. Resilience is when a person is able to come out of a difficult situation with new strengths or a new knowledge of who they are. They can recover from adversity but with the awareness that they are not the same person that they were before the storm.


If you are parenting children with trauma, or if you as a parent have had trauma in your own life, you know those scars cannot be erased. But you and your child can discover a resilience that comes from those traumas and know yourself better and be stronger for it.


You can help your child build resilience by attuning with your child and teaching him how to regulate those tumultuous emotions when circumstances trigger anxiety and unsafe feelings. Those feelings are normal with trauma backgrounds. You can be the safe, calm person that helps your child work through those feelings and what to do with them. I’ve said this before, knowledge is power. Learn how trauma changes the brain and how you can help that person feel safe again.


For further reading, here are a few other posts I have about trauma:

Raising Kids with Trauma in their Past

5 ways to Build Resilience as a Family

Parenting with a History

Creating a Nurturing Environment


I also have a resource section with great book recommendations to read on trauma, and I am always available to work with you one on one to help you connect with your child through those big behaviors.

Finger Breathing


One of the most powerful things you can do to regulate your system is to use mindfulness to be aware of the moment and take some deep breaths. If you can recognize that you are in a red zone of negative feelings or better yet, you can recognize that you are approaching a red zone, that is the time to do something to regulate your system. If you are in a red zone, you have a much harder time thinking clearly and putting an event in perspective. You may have negative feelings, but if you are regulated, you can think clearly about what actions are going to best meet your needs.


My kids know all about deep breaths, but I usually have to be a bit creative about helping them take the deep breath. This is a great technique for breathing that I got from author and play therapist, Tracy Turner-Bumberry.


Touch the tips of your index finger and your thumb together and take breath in. Breath out slowly. Move your thumb to your middle finger and take another breath in and breath out slowly. Move to the next finger and the next finger doing the same thing. Then move back through the fingers doing slow mindful breathing. If you or your kids like a formula, this will well for you.


Also note, if you can make the exhale longer than the inhale and drop your shoulders (relaxed muscles) on the exhale it is going to be more effective in facilitating calm and regulation. When we are excited or agitated, we tend to take short breaths that are longer on the inhale. Your body does that to take in oxygen to prepare you to fight or run. So, to relax, you need to do the opposite, let out more breath, to relax your body.


Try it out and then teach it to your kids. If you have a family time where the family talks together, share with them what you learned, and tell them it is a tool to help them calm when they need it.


References:  Turner-Bumberry, Tracy. (2019), 2 4,6, 8 This is How We Regulate! 75 Play Therapy Activities to Increase Mindfulness in Children. PESI Publishing & Media, Eau Claire, WI.