School curriculum may be chock full of instruction on history, mathematics, and grammar, but too often fails to provide meaningful or timely information on how to cope with childhood trauma.
Without this important tool, children suffering from any range of issues including parental divorce, loss of a parent, obesity, disability, abuse, transgender depression in teens, social anxiety, or feelings of being outcast may continue to spiral deeper into isolation and depression.
One of the ways to help kids find empowerment, stability, and acceptance outside of the family unit is to support them in finding a sport or hobby that resonates. Forcing a child into a sport they don’t like may not have the best results, but talking to them to find out if they have an interest but are afraid to pursue it can be the first step toward giving them an outlet for coping with their anxiety.
When having this discussion, it’s important to understand that not only are there a variety of different sports and hobby clubs to choose from, there are different ways to engage with these groups as well. If your child doesn’t want to play the sport but can provide support in administrative ways — such as managing social media accounts, helping with fundraisers, or doing research — then encourage them to get involved on their terms.
Don’t try to steer them toward common sports like baseball, football, or basketball just because those are the most visible or “easy” sports in which to participate. Sports and hobbies may also include things like mountain biking, amateur rocketry, robotics (or Lego League for younger kids), or archery. Some sports and hobbies are closely related to your geographic location or season, like Paddle Boarding Palm Beach, skiing in New England, or white water rafting in Arizona.
Giving a child the chance to develop a skill, become adept, and improve their focus can build confidence while taking some attention away from the trauma. The purpose is not to make them forget the trauma completely, but to continue trying to have a full life despite the pain so that the trauma does not become an overwhelming point of focus in their lives.
Just as there are plenty of ways for kids to get involved, there are also plenty of ways for parents or guardians to get involved as well. And the most basic way is to share excitement and discussion about upcoming activities.
Parents can also plan extracurricular events tied to the child’s hobby that might also spark their interest. If the child is interested in robotics or rocketry, perhaps a trip to a local air and space museum would be time well spent. These small occasions might be the perfect time to invite other team members and their parents along as well, to enhance the social nature of sport or hobby.
Hype up bigger events and spend time training with them whenever possible, even if it’s just sideline encouragement. Due to its central location in the country, it’s not uncommon for teams all over the US to participate in a Lansing sporting event. If your child will be attending a major event like this, keep a positive focus on the event.
Never shame a child about the cost or details over which they have no control. Help them prepare mentally and physically and remind them to enjoy the time. And if you are fortunate enough to attend as well, take plenty of pictures or video to commemorate the trip.
Of course, always be on the lookout for videos and books, support groups, or even counseling and therapy avenues that can help with social anxiety and coping with trauma. That’s because combining this with a sports or hobby helps them enter a positive cycle toward wellness.
Learning to process their grief will help them find more enjoyment in activities, and activities can give them strength and clarity to more effectively process their trauma.