Childhood Trauma

Do you personally know a child who has been hurt as a result of the death of a parent, bullying at school, drug/alcohol abuse, poverty, lack of food, death of a loved one, or a difficult move?

Childhood trauma happens more than many realize.  In fact, the National Survey of Children’s Health indicates nearly half of U.S. children residents experience one or more serious traumas.

Knowing our paths will cross with children processing trauma, we must to be ready to minister to them at the point of their need.  As dads, moms, aunts, uncles, neighbors, friends, and teachers of God’s Word we will come in contact with and should know how to minister to trauma victims.

Supporting children in processing trauma requires a listening ear.  As far as it is possible, the adult should have an ear to listen to the child tell their story and share their thoughts and concerns as many times as the child needs to share it. This may likely provide a kind of therapy as they understand and work through how to deal with the trauma.  We can also support the child in their processing trauma through drawing and journaling as part of their story telling.

One trauma many of today’s children experience involves moving, especially for those who are immigrants.  As one dear friend who was our elementary school’s counselor shared, “Christians are like turtles.  Turtles take their home with them wherever they go.”   As a child of God, Jesus makes His home within us.  He goes with us anywhere we go.  Knowing that truth sets us free.  Introducing a child to Jesus will give him the security of God’s presence and peace in the good and hard times of life.

Often trauma victims question God. Children (and adults!) ask, “Why?” or wonder if God truly cares.  Learning about God’s attributes helps fit the pieces of the truth together to set us free from anxiety that can result.  Hiding God’s Word in our hearts enables us to take hold of the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and cut down the enemy.  Being in tune with the Holy Spirit’s prompting will guide us to know how to encourage a child processing trauma.

Truth is found in memory verses, songs, Bible stories, as well as our personal testimonies.  Hearing Bible and missionary stories along with memorizing scripture verses and songs can enable children to recall God’s truths and be comforted not only when going through the trauma, but also in the processing of the trauma.

During my Philippine years as a teacher, I was blessed to witness children actually encouraging the adults in traumatic situations.  In 1991, Mt. Pinatubo blew its top and many of us had no idea what we were approaching on our way home that initially beautiful day.  The volcanic ash covered our cars in a very short amount of time so we had little to no visibility.  When several of our cars stopped to check on one another, it was one of my 5th grade students who reminded us of the scripture,

“God will never leave us or forsake us.”

Hebrews 13:5.

Another key to helping children in their processing trauma is to pray for them and with them as opportunities arise.  Reminding children to talk to God whenever they feel alone, anxious, fearful, scared, sad, angry, or worried brings a deep settled peace knowing God hears and answers.

Good News Club songs like, “You’re Not Alone, Jesus is there with You” bring special comfort to oneself as well as encouraging others or even being a witness to one’s captors.  In 1992 I was held captive for 10 days on a remote island in the Philippines.  One night the men asked us to sing a love song.  God /*brought to mind the Good News Club song I had learned in my younger years, “I’m in Love with Jesus.  He’s in love with me.  I’ll tell you why I love Him; because He first loved me.  He shed His blood on Calvary for sinners just like me. For I’m in love with Jesus and He’s in love with me.”  Our prayer was that we would be a testimony for Jesus.

Teaching children to pray through modeling and sharing together in prayer helps prepare them to face the traumas of life.  Praying with the armor of God in mind from Ephesians 6 strengthens us all to face the challenges of life and “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel…” Ephesians 6:19b

In closing, I recall another 5th grader who encouraged me soon after my release from captivity with these words:

“When God lets His children go through the furnace,
He keeps His hand on the thermostat and His eye on the clock;
His loving heart knows how much and how long.”

Yes, God knows and cares and wants all His children to know His presence intimately to take us through whatever we may face.  As His ambassadors may we do our best for Jesus in raising resilient children that love God with all their heart, mind and soul in order to face life’s challenges and touch others for Christ.

Written by Carol Smith
GNC Coordinator & Prayer Coordinator
CEF of Peninsula