Trauma Affects Coping Skills

Children learn about themselves within the context of relationships. The impact of trauma on infants and young children is especially key because it occurs during a critical developmental period. Having a strong caregiver relationship with a strong attachment system provides the security and safety necessary for children to master an array of competencies including how to self-regulate, develop positive relationships and acquire cognitive skills relevant to learning. It also provides the foundation for self and identity formation. When there is uncertainty, unpredictability or fear it affects a child’s sense of safety within relationships and the world.

Traumatic stress overwhelms the limited coping skills available to developing children. In the absence of a caregiving system that is able to support the development of more sophisticated skills or provide external regulation, children are unable to regulate emotions, they disconnect from their feelings, or they use unhealthy coping skills. Children who experience complex trauma must invest their energy into survival rather than in the development of age-appropriate competencies. Children may lag behind peers in a variety of developmental domains or fail to develop a sense of confidence and efficacy in task performance. (1)

Jump Rope

Learning how to regulate emotions is an important skill for all children but especially children who have experienced trauma. For young children, the use of movement and sensory-focused activities is the primary modality for teaching children how to regulate.

We are wired for rhythm. In the womb, a baby is attuned to the rhythm of their mother’s heartbeat. Babies respond to lullaby singing, back-patting and rocking. Rhythm continues to be comforting to older children as well. Jump rope is a movement that incorporates rhythm, singing rhymes, counting and coordination. Practicing breathing, tempo, movement and sound during calm times can establish and reinforce pathways to support self-regulation during less calm times. (2)

WHY Jump Rope?

Exercise Benefits:
  • Release Endorphins
  • Lower levels of stress and anxiety
  • Create more stress resilience
  • Increase cognitive function and potential on structural level in brain
Exercise + Complex Thinking:
  • Greater levels of BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor)
  • Greater impact on the structural benefit for the brain
  • Effecting areas of learning and memory in the brain
Trauma Effects:
  • Hold stress in the body
  • Disconnect from the day to day and present moment
  • Disconnect from other people
  • Loss of feeling safe with others (out of sync)
Jump Rope:
  • Moderate Exercise + Complex thinking (rhymes and games)
  • Re-syncing physically and cognitively (jumping in and singing the rhymes)
  • Re-establish feeling of connection and safety with others
  • Inexpensive, easily transported, fun
  • Exercise can be helpful for PTSD symptoms
  • Involvement in group settings
  • Yoga has been studied in particular; Treatment of Complex Trauma in Young Children
Communicating Trauma: Clinical Presentations and Interventions With Traumatized Children, Na’ama Yehuda, Routledge, 2016