How to be close to a child who has lived through war: some tips

Considering that each boy and girl is unique and that their life stories and backgrounds are different, as well as their individual resilience factors, however, we may be confronted with some common symptoms data from the traumatic event they have just experienced.

Psychological reactions in children who are victims of war

It is important to recognize the most common reactions and symptoms which can manifest boys, girls and young people who have experienced a traumatic event such as the war and the ensuing escape.

Some examples:

  • Isolation from the group
  • Get words or silence
  • Sudden and inconsolable crying
  • Sleep disorders and nightmares
  • Constant search for proximity of reference adults
  • Need for constant movement
  • Disorientation, disorientation, confusion
  • Regressive conditions (use of pacifiers for adults, nocturnal enuresis) use of games suitable for children
  • Feeling helpless
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion mode emptying
  • Anxiety
  • Hyperalarma

More complex cases must always be reported And immediately evaluated by industry experts such as: Acute psychologists, psychologists and psychotherapists specializing in trauma for an initial evaluation and possibly a dispatch and takeover of the public employees (eg: Child Neuropsychiatry). Never replace yourself with specialized professionals.

What to do to stay close to them: 3 basic steps

The first phasebasic, is to observe. Always pay attention before you shop. Here are some tips:

  • Take time to understand the most obvious aspects about the emotional and psychological state of minors, even before proposing structured activities. Spend enough time seeing, observing and understanding who you are in front of.
  • Free games: especially in the early stages, can be of great help to observe how children, girls and young people feel. Make available games that are easy to use, suitable for age groups (soft constructions, dido or salt dough, colors, plates, soft ball, stickers, board games for most characters, cards, etc …)
  • Before proposing changes (clothes, food, etc ..) make sure there is an authorization from themeven just by looking.

The second phase is: to communicate. How do you do it? Some examples:

  • In the early stages of acquaintance you can to communicate with children, girls and boys with simple movements, in a predominantly non-verbal way: with the body, with a calm and reassuring look, with always slow and never jerky movements that help you lay the foundation for a relationship of trust.
  • Try to understand and remember their names right away (albeit unusual) and share your. The name is an important aspect of recognizing and enhancing one’s identity, especially in this moment of disorientation.
  • IS always good to have a cultural communication, an interpreter or translator who can help you communicate with boys, girls and teens. If this is not possible, use some apps or websites that translate into their language for free.
  • Pay attention to do not ask too many questions, especially on their journey, on the war, on their condition as refugees. They will decide if and when they want to speak. Asking if these aspects could reactivate recent traumatic and negative emotions and memories.

Third stage: play and do simple activities

  • If the child does not have any toys with him, he gently tries together to figure out which ones he prefers and let yourself choose without suggesting many alternatives. It is not the amount of toys that matters! The game is the tool that allows you to enter into a relationship.
  • Try to find anyway toys and materials suitable for different age groups, avoid games that are too mundane for teens. For example, playing cards for adults are very popular!
  • In the first moments prefers activities in a circle of knowledge with simple games about names, rhythm and movement. If a boy, girl or teenager does not want to participate, do not insist; he / she will be the one who comes in whenever he / she wants.
  • Prefers quiet and not very activating gamesthey will probably still regain their strength and familiarize themselves with the new space.
  • Drawings and manipulation are preferable in the early stages of reception, but pay attention to the “easy” interpretations of the products in a psychological key! If children draw “war”, it is normal, in accordance with their painful experience. If they want to tell you about their design, listen to them and improve their product, but without opening up personal reflections and hasty diagnoses.

What to do if they ask you for help directly: 2 tips

  • Prove them and stay calm, listen to them: They may be sad or bored and need to understand what happened. Ask an expert immediately to intervene to respond to this request!
  • If they saw something that disturbed them, you have to tell them not to feel guilty is it they can always talk about it with a reference adult.

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