The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but kids have arguably been affected the most. The social isolation, breakdown of routine, family stress and anxiety about the virus...it’s been traumatic, to say the least. As parents grapple with what they can do to help their children cope with these stressful events, educator Karen Gross is making the case for building trauma toolboxes.
“Trauma toolboxes (which can be renamed sensory boxes or break boxes) are designed to help children re-regulate when their autonomic nervous system is on high alert,” explains educator Karen Gross. Chances are you’ve already experienced your child’s nervous system heading into overdrive this past year (hello, Google classroom), but you may see it happen again if your kid is starting in-person learning this September, for example, or if they see something upsetting on the news.
So how does it work? A trauma toolbox helps young people deal with stress, anxiety and trauma by focusing on their senses. It can be adjusted to reflect a child’s age and developmental stage, as well as their context and culture.
“What is actually in the toolbox differs depending on the user but whatever items are in the box (or bag) are designed to stimulate the senses and allow someone to refocus and open new neural pathways that trauma has shut down,” explains Gross. You know how a fidget spinner can help relieve anxiety? Think of the box as an entire kit of sensory helpers that will help your stressed-out kid refocus and relax.