Published: December 18, 2023
As a ministry leader, how can you help kids and families move through trauma and toward their friend Jesus? These four simple steps can help.
Trauma is more common in the lives of children than we think. It can be initiated by abuse, bullying, divorce, domestic violence, auto accidents, natural disasters, and gun violence. As ministry leaders, volunteers, and parents, the more we educate ourselves on topics affecting children, the better equipped we are to help them heal. We can be lifesavers for children experiencing trauma.
Ask for God to help guide kids through their trauma.
Because we know God answers prayer, prayer is our first step in meeting the needs of a child who is experiencing trauma. Ask God to give the child courage and strength to move forward without fear and to feel his presence. Pray that God surrounds the child with loving, caring people who have the child’s well-being in mind. Ask God to help you reach the child and help you recognize when professional help is required.
Build good relationships.
Eye contact shows the child that you take a real interest in his or her life and that you sincerely care. One-on-one conversations and good listening skills will help you understand what the child’s thinking and feeling. Don’t overreact to what the child shares. Don’t make light of his or her feelings; take them seriously. Share examples of how you rely on God. Let the child know how God has been present for you. Once you have a relationship, you can build trust. God will work through you to support the child.
Encourage the child to interact with others.
After a traumatic experience, a child might struggle socially. Keep an eye on the child’s interactions in your class, and encourage partnerships with others. Invite a compassionate child to pair up with the child and form a relationship. Social interaction is important because having friends to interact with is a positive outlet.
Provide tools to help the child cope through trauma.
A good book with positive principles and characters can offer the child a positive perspective on a situation. Books can be a fun, helpful way to engage a child after a traumatic event. Read the book together, and talk about its focus. Talk about Bible stories that show God’s help and protection, like when God found Gideon hiding from the Midianites (Judges 6) and how God was with Moses when he was afraid to speak with Pharaoh (Exodus 3 and 4). Even though Gideon and Moses were afraid, God was with them and gave them victory. Writing and drawing can also be effective ways for kids to express their experiences. Give the child a journal or sketchbook.
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