Help Your Child Deal with Hurt

Gosh! Your child is dealing with so much these days.  Children are facing greater challenges today due to academic expectations, social obligations, and society’s unrealistic expectations.  It is hard being a kid.  I am sure you are a wonderful, supportive, and loving parent that does your best to protect your child from harm and hurt.  You are doing your best.  Sadly your child may have encountered a person(s) or a situation that caused physical, emotional, and mental harm.

Perhaps your child told you they were bullied or cyber bullied.  Perhaps another child was physically aggressive with your child.  Even worst, maybe an adult harmed your child.  Perhaps a trusted friend or adult betrayed your child’s trust and violated their physical, emotional, and mental space. 

This is your worst nightmare. You are experiencing a lot of different emotions.  You may feel confused, betrayed, angry, sad, numb, or a combination of all of these.  You may feel guilty and ashamed.  You may feel like you did not do your job to protect your child.  These feelings are a normal reaction to what happened to your kiddo. 

Your child needs you right now.  It can be a challenge to see past your own emotions.  Perhaps you are struggling to relate to or understand how your child may be feeling.  Most likely, your child probably feels the exact same way that you do.  You know your child better than anyone else. Trust your gut.  Your assumption is probably right.  

I know you want to help your child deal with the hurt they experienced.  It seems overwhelming and you might feel lost.  The biggest thing your child needs is you.  Don’t know what to say?  That is OK, try some of these things to show your child your support.

  • Acknowledge feelings.  If you asked your child how they felt they may say “I don’t know” or “I’m fine”.  This may discourage you from probing further.  But if you notice your child is sad, mad, anxious, or stressed point it out to your kiddo.  Let them know, “I see you look sad”.  Your child may disagree with you or may not say anything at all.  You can tell your child how you feel.  You want to help your kiddo understand feelings and learn to identify feelings.  
  • Help your child express feelings.  Allow your child to cry.  Allow your child to be angry.  It is OK if your child wants to scream and yell.  You want your child to let go of emotions through healthy expression of feelings.  Your child may not know how to express emotions, so help them.  Tell your child what helps you feel better when you feel a certain way and engage in that behavior with your child.  
  • Feelings are like a wave.  Feelings come and go like waves of the sea.  Sometimes they are large and crash and other times they are slow and small.  You want to help your child learn to ride the waves of emotions.  You, and your kiddo, will not cry forever because another feeling will come.  Your job is to help you child have healthy ways to manage the feelings when they come.  
  • Tell your child you are there for them.  Now you probably already voice your support, but how you respond to what your child is telling you will determine if your child will continue to talk to you are not.  Your child may tell you something that will make you angry or sad.  I know this is hard, but do your best to keep your emotions under control. It is important to acknowledge the feeling and you may have a physical expression of the feeling.  But keep your feelings controlled.  You don’t want to be overcome with emotions because this can prevent your child from telling you more in the future.  Listen! Acknowledge your feelings and your child’s feelings.  Repeat back what you hear your child saying.  
  • Take care of you.  It is hard for you to hear about any pain your child is experiencing.  You are also entitled to your feelings and need to express them.  Give yourself a “Time Out” and allow yourself to express emotions in private away from your child.  Engage in activities that help you feel relaxed and in control.

You do your best to protect your child every day.  There are times when despite your best efforts your child will experience pain, disappointment, and upset.  Upset feelings, behavior, and thinking are a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.  You can continue to protect your child by helping your kiddo get through the upset in a healthy way.  It is OK to ask for help!  You may be at a loss for how to help your child.  This does not make you a bad parent.  It makes you normal!  The sooner you can get help for your child the better your child can overcome the hurt.  And don’t be ashamed if you need help for yourself too.  Help can lead to healing and healing can lead to happiness and success in the future.