TAMPA, Fla. - At the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, the game "Candy Land" is played differently, with each square of color representing an emotion.
It's just one of the tools counselors use to help kids process trauma. Less likely to verbalize pain, children often act it out.
"The right kinds of toys, they'll reenact the scene in front of them, then they're the big person taking charge of the scene," explained Vicki Hummer, Director of Trauma Services Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. "They really don't want to think about it or bring it back up, even though it's something that might be bothering them or keeping them up at night."
The feeling of control helps kids rewrite a situation over which they may have had little control when it actually occurred, not unlike the experience of Cole and Chase Hakken.
"These children are young," explained forensic psychologist Dr. Valerie McClain. "They're 2 and 4 years old, which is the time of attachment and trust."
According to Dr. McClain, that attachment and trust are most vulnerable at this point. Regression depends on the boys' relationship with their parents, Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, prior to their kidnapping last week. It will also depend on how the couple explained what they were doing, and whether the boys witnessed their grandmother tied up by their own father.
The FBI confirms there were counselors on board the plane flight back from Cuba.
Still, no one close to Joshua and Sharon have shared many details about how the boys related to their parents, and whether this additional separation will continue any previous trauma.
"They might have difficulty leaving their caregiver to go to school or even outside," Hummer said.
Other effects include issues with potty training, eating, communicating, and learning. In extreme cases, kids can develop PTSD, which may not develop for years.
The Hakkens may have forever changed their sons' futures, McClain says, in their extreme effort to return to the past.
"What if they can't see the parents at all now? Because there's an order that doesn't permit that visitation because the parents are not fit?" she said. "So, in a lot of ways the parents set up a very tragic situation for their own children."
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