April Story of the Month

One Breath at a Time

Young & Healthy has launched an educational program designed to bring a broader understanding of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) to community members. The program includes many components where we discuss how toxic stress in childhood effects our brain development, our behavior, our ability to learn and even our long-term health. One of our most engaged audiences has been a large group of swim instructors.

Following our training, one of the swim instructors, Sofia, was faced with a tough situation. Ten year-old Josie’s pool behavior was always a bit of a challenge, but on one particular day it was exceedingly difficult. Sofia could tell that Josie was having an “off” day, so she took Josie aside to work with her, one-on-one. While Josie used the kick board, Sofia swam face-to-face in front of her. Sofia told Josie that she had been having a bad day…she lost her keys, she forgot her lunch and by the time she got to work, she was very grumpy. Then, in a tender voice, Sofia asked Josie if she was also having a bad day?  Josie nodded, yes she was.  THIS was a breakthrough moment for Josie! She opened up because someone noticed, someone cared and she wasn’t in trouble for her behavior. Sofia told Josie that she did not have to talk about her bad day, but offered her some “tricks” that might help. In the middle of the crowded pool, Sofia taught Josie some deep breathing practices by suggesting that she take a really big deep breath, go under water, and “punch” that water just as hard as she could. Moments later after following the suggestion, Josie shot to surface giggling and happy to join the others in the swim lesson. Such a small, yet effective, exercise changed that little girl’s day. Sofia told Young & Healthy later that she kept thinking about a Dan Siegal quote we use in all of our classes, “In order for a child to feel secure, he/she must be seen, safe and soothed”. Kudos to Sofia, who did all of those things and probably gained a big fan!

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