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The 3 things you can do to coach children when the unthinkable happens

Uncategorized Jul 16, 2021

Just imagine. You are in a burning building. Your toddler is with you. You are on the 16th floor.  You can't use the lift. So you run down the stairs but cannot get past the second floor. You have nowhere to go. So you climb onto a balcony.  All you can think about is saving your child.

What would you do?

A South African mother did the unthinkable. As she was engulfed in smoke, she made a split second decision. She threw her 2-year old from the first floor of the burning building, into her neighbours arms. She trusted they would catch her little girl and keep her safe. 

Why did this happen?

This was in the aftermath of a rampage of violence, riots, looting and arson throughout the city of Durban. My old hometown. The place I was born.

The very spot this happened, I have fond childhood memories of holiday shopping with my mom and my accompanying treat at the "Wimpy" for a burger, chips and milkshake. 

My childhood is a far cry to the one currently being experienced in Durban by children this past week. On Monday, 12 July the unthinkable happened. A small rogue group of political bandits set out to cause chaos and destruction. This incited thousands already suffering from poverty through Covid and a historically ineffective government regime to take the opportunity to fill their coffers. This led to empty stores but also to the loss of life through arson and armed violence.  

So how do you coach children when the unthinkable happens?

When food security is threatened?

When buildings have been burnt down?

When fathers, uncles, brothers are patrolling the streets to protect their families and homes?

When gunshots are ringing out 24/7?

South Africa is not an isolated country in this chaos. Many more such events have been caused through political upheaval across the globe but also through natural disasters. 

The aftermath is children faced with potential PTSD, but worse than that an actual permanent rewiring of their brain. Leading to impaired cognitive abilities and biological stress systems dysregulation.  


There is still a lot needing to be done in this field of research but what can we do as Kids Life Coaches to help? These 3 things should be top of your list of priorities:

1. Learn about BRAIN BEHAVIOUR and become trauma informed - learn all there is to know about how the brain becomes dysregulated through trauma. Learn about complex childhood trauma and the lasting impact into adulthood if not curtailed early. Learn about best gold standard practices for referrals if needed. 

2. Learn about BRAIN BUILDING and offer social support - this means being available not only in your coaching sessions, but also when a child becomes overwhelmed or worse yet, suicidal. Make them fully understand that you are part of their support network and that you are there for them unconditionally and they can reach out if they need to. If and when they do happen to reach out. Don't offer solutions. Just listen and remind them of point 3 - coping strategies.  

3. Learn about BRAIN BALANCING and coach coping strategies - in our Kids Life coach training, we have a magical play based coaching model that offers 5 tools for coping better in daily life. These coping strategies range from breathing, visualisations, mindfulness, gratitude, journalling, movement to name a few. Give children tangible methods and ways to regulate their vagus nerve and bring inner calm so that you can assist them in undoing the aftermath of the complex trauma.

Whilst there is a lot more that goes into all of this, if you remember just these 3 things when the unthinkable happens, the children you coach will be in good hands. Just like the mom who threw her toddler from a burning building, you will be there to catch the child and prevent them from harm. 

This 3 pillared brain based model is from The Secret Parent Foundation®. This is a charity that was setup by my husband and in 2019 to support children in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. We have also implemented a Social Support project during the global pandemic. Now we are calling on volunteers to assist us in supporting families in Durban, Kwazulu Natal.

Should you be a certified Kids Life Coach, a child psychologist, counsellor or social worker and available to work with small groups of families using our 4-week online programme to support them, please make contact with [email protected]

The unthinkable happens everyday in children's lives. Kids Life Coaching is the solution to preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's) from destroying a child's future prospects into adulthood.

Trauma is a destructive monster when not managed and if you want to be part of the solution, you can start by enrolling in our Level 1 Theory of Kids Life Coaching training. Should you be interested, contact [email protected] to ask for a discount code to get $1000 off the training.  This will lay a good foundation for trauma informed work and for laying a solid foundation for supporting children sustainably, and ethically.

We will donate full proceeds of your enrolment to The Secret Parent Foundation if you have read this blog and make direct contact with us and you become a volunteer.* 

My heart goes out to my old hometown, Durban. The place where my family still lives. I feel helpless being so far away in England. Yet I know that through our work with The Secret Parent Foundation, The Kids Life Studio and The Kids Life Coach Academy, we can support families to build resilience and turn their Post Traumatic Stress into Post Traumatic Growth. 

Sending much love and zeal your way,

Zelna Lauwrens

Kids Life Studio® & Kids Life Coach Academy Founder

*Terms and conditions apply with a minimum of  8 hours volunteering time required. 


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