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It's Christmas Time! What can that mean for young people who have experienced trauma?

The Christmas season is here! Many of us are probably looking forward to spending time with our loved ones, relaxing and having a well-deserved break from our usual routine. But for our young people who have experienced trauma, this time of year may not seem so cheerful.

For some of them, the holidays may trigger memories of abuse, neglect or family violence. For others, it may be a sobering reminder that they are living in care rather than with their families. All the things that go along with a ‘typical’ Christmas - changes in normal routine, attending busy social gatherings, reconnecting with family, the stress levels that increase along with our attempts to organise presents, food etc. – can be really overwhelming and scary for our young people.

 

"The festive season can be an overwhelming time for our young people, but it also brings a special opportunity to show our kids that they are seen, valued and cared for by people who will be there, even when it gets tough."

It is important to remember that even if a young person is in an objectively safe situation, they may not truly feel that safety. Experiences of trauma can lead survivors to become hypervigilant or highly attuned to the potential dangers in their environment.

 

The organised chaos of Christmas that many of us expect can bring powerful cues of danger for a child, triggering their body’s survival response and leading to big, emotional reactions that they aren’t able to control. Safety needs to be felt on a deep level to support a calm, regulated state.

 

The festive season can be an overwhelming time for our young people, but it also brings a special opportunity to show our kids that they are seen, valued and cared for by people who will be there, even when it gets tough.

Kathy, WCF Clinician