What you say to your children in those first moments of distress from falling down or having a bad dream, or even worse, can make all the difference in their innate ability to stabilize their own emotional state of being. It can mean the difference between a child who grows up holding onto fear and pain and one who knows how to self-soothe her way through the bumps and bruises of childhood.
So says author Judith A. Acosta, licensed psychotherapist, classical homeopath, hypnotherapist and crisis counselor. She specializes in working with law enforcement and first-response personnel, school-age children and adolescents and their families, helping people to learn techniques that promote healing and short-circuit traumatic memories. She teaches “words as medicine” for both the physical and emotional bodies: words that “build a foundation of confidence and inner strength that will help kids heal at the deepest level, and weather whatever hardships and difficulties they encounter throughout life.”
A lecture/workshop based on her new book Verbal First Aid: Help Your Kids Heal from Fear and Pain and Come out Strong (co-authored with Judith Simon Prager) will be presented by Acosta this Sunday, January 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Gardiner Library on Farmers’ Turnpike in Gardiner. Acosta explains how fear gets hard-wired into young minds as children learn what the world expects of them: whether it’s safe or not, how to move through the universe in a physical body. “Children are resilient, sometimes enduring the most unthinkable traumas. Yet their core remains untouched; there’s something to work with. If I can teach parents how to give their children the skill of self-reliance, think about what that does for parents, too. You begin to recognize that your child is a separate being, not an extension of you. You’re freed up, too.”
In her presentation, Acosta will describe the methods of interacting with children that help them to heal – sometimes just by speaking a key sentence or two – using the techniques that she has taught to doctors, nurses and first responders who regularly work in crisis situations. She’ll talk about everyday situations and ones more fear-producing. “It’s a way for children to learn to help themselves. When a kid knows early on how to self-soothe, it’s a tremendous gift. Combine that with the incredible ability to participate in the healing process: It’s the gift of a lifetime.”
The Gardiner Library is located at 133 Farmers’ Turnpike. For more information call (845) 255-1255 or visit www.wordsaremedicine.com.