Trauma can be described as a person’s emotional response to an intense event that harms or is threatening. This harm can be emotional or physical and might leave a long-lasting impact on the child.
Any frightening or distressing experience will challenge the child in a way that it will destroy their sense of security and predictability of the world.
What are some traumatic events kids go through?
- Accidents or natural disasters
- Unpredictable behavior from their parents due to mental illness or addiction.
- Witnessing harm like community or domestic violence.
- Getting separated from the close ones
- Emotional, sexual, and physical abuse.
How Parents Can Help Their Kid To Cope-Up With Traumatic Experience
- Every child will respond to traumatic experiences differently.
- Help them to rebuild trust and a sense of safety.
- Talk about how you feel about the traumatic event to your child.
- Ask about the child’s feelings and emotions about the traumatic event.
- Maintain a regular family routine and avoid making significant changes.
- Help them to build self-esteem.
- Perform activities that will help them to relax.
- Identify the trauma triggers.
- Try to be available for them both physically and emotionally.
- Do not judge their behavior.
- Apply practical strategies to help the child heal from the trauma.
- Do not hesitate to seek mental health experts’ help if the symptoms worsen or remain the same for a long time.
How To Help The Child To Cope-Up With Trauma
Even though any trauma experienced during childhood can have a long-lasting and severe impact on the child, if you are a caring and supportive parent, it will give them the courage to overcome it.
Child’s Response Towards Trauma
How the child responds to the frightening and distressing experience will vary depending on their age, personality, and development. Some reactions to trauma are:
- Preoccupation: The child may experience a nightmare or become overly concerned when it comes to future events. They will continuously try to relive their experience.
- Physical Symptoms: The symptoms may be stomach aches and headaches.
- Withdrawal: They will start to lose interest in doing activities they previously used to love and lose confidence.
- Anxiety: The child will experience a problem when it comes to paying attention or concentration. They will develop irritable and clingy behavior and suffer from sleep problems and anxiety.
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Rebuild Safety And Trust
After a trauma, the child will look at the world as a frightening and dangerous place. The child will experience difficulty in trusting other people and the environment.
- As a parent, you need to rebuild their sense of security and safety.
- You need to reassure and hug your child to make them feel secured.
- Give your child time and space so that they can have fun, play, and relax.
- Establish a structured routine with a proper schedule that will make their world look stable again.
Most children who go through a traumatic experience will look at the future as unpredictable, bleak, and scary. To rebuild their trust, you have to be trustworthy.
Parents Response Towards The Traumatic Event Is Essential For The Child
How the child is recovering and coping with the traumatic event will depend on their parent’s behavior and feelings towards the child’s experience.
- Try to be understanding and analyze their behavioral changes like bedwetting and tantrums.
- During bedtime, provide extra attention to your child. The child will always look up to their parents to understand the crisis and develop ways to respond or deal with the situation.
- As a parent, you need to be around them to support and comfort them during distressing events.
- You should talk about how you are feeling and ask the child about their feelings.
- Allow the child to gain control over their own life by making minor decisions.
If your child can feel helpless, they will get more stress symptoms in the future. Avoid being overprotective and make your child feel that the world outside is also safe.
What the child is eating can determine their coping ability to traumatic stress and mood. Do not allow them to have convenience food, processed food, sugary drinks, snacks, and refined carbohydrates because it amplifies the symptoms caused by traumatic stress and creates frequent mood swings.
Allow them to consume food with a high amount of protein, healthy fats like Omega 3 fatty acids, vegetables, and fruits.
Keep the family routine normal even after any traumatic event. Refrain from introducing new changes in routine. For a while, the child may not maintain their normal routine like attending school and doing household chores, so make sure to not push them to do it.
|Why is it essential to maintain a regular family routine?|
It will reduce anxiety towards the unpredictability of the future.The child will feel secure and stable. It will help the child to get back to their regular routine and recover quickly from the traumatic event.
Talk About The Trauma
The first thing that you need to do is reassure the child that the traumatic event has ended and they are now safe. Sometimes you have to reassure them frequently.
- Listen to the child’s concerns or feelings seriously.
- Ask about the traumatic event experienced by the child without digging into the lurid or frightening details.
Make sure that the child is not having the wrong conclusion of the event. Most children will think that they have experienced a traumatic event because of their fault or develop bad thoughts about someone else. Assure them that their feelings are entirely normal and that they will heal with time and feel better.
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|How to talk to the child about the traumatic event?|
Let the child share the experience first and do not keep on insisting on them.It will help you to know what conclusion the child has got from the situation. Do not ask about the lurid or frightening details.
Encourage your child to develop self-esteem because it can help them to increase resilience and recover from any traumatic experience. When they will master a new skill or achieve anything, they will feel satisfied.
Help Them To Relax
Teach your child how to perform slow breathing and listen to calming music that can reduce their anxiety.
Identify the trauma triggers of your child. You might end up saying something that is harmless but is triggering trauma in your child.
Observe the child’s behavior or reaction to certain things or situations. Avoid situations that can trigger the traumatic memories of your child until they heal completely.
|How to identify trauma triggers?|
Observe the reaction of the child towards certain things or situations. Ask the details of the traumatic event to figure put the possible trauma triggers. Keep them away from the same atmosphere or place where they experienced the trauma.
Be Available Both Physically And Emotionally
Provide encouragement, comfort, and attention to your child so that they can recover. You might have to provide extra cuddling and hugs for the young child, and for old youth, you need to spend time together.
Do Not Judge Their Behavior
When the child is behaving in a certain way and expresses their feelings instead of taking the behavior personally, you should accept them without judgment.
Practical Strategies To Help The Child Recover From The Trauma
Ensure that the child is getting enough sleep and rest. Try to engage them in different types of physical exercises to reduce stress and improve their sleep quality. Try to limit stimulants, for example, colored foods, chocolates, and sugar. Allow the child to relax physically by taking massages, warm baths, enjoy storytime, and provide cuddles to reduce their muscle tension.
Try to avoid the activities that can bring back their memories of a traumatic event. As a family, you should encourage spending shared pleasure and good times together so that your child can laugh and have fun.
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Seek Help If Needed
If the child feels confused, despire, guilty, numb, and anxious after the traumatic event for a long time, do not hesitate to take help from a professional mental health expert. If the child is having suicidal thoughts or experiencing terrifying memories, flashbacks and nightmares, then take quick actions.
Every child’s response to a traumatic experience will depend on their development, personality, age, and trauma intensity. Not every child is going to heal quickly, and some are going to take a long time.
|When to seek medical help?|
If the child is feeling despire, guilty, or confused, they need medical help. If the child has negative thoughts and suicidal tendencies, it can be an alerting sign that they need medical help. If the child is still suffering from nightmares or the terrifying event’s flashback, they need to see a mental health expert.
Frequently Asked Questions on Helping Children Deal With Trauma
Can the trauma symptoms be understood?
Symptoms of trauma in children include irritable behavior, feeling passive or helpless, separation anxiety, clingy behavior, somatic complaints, sleep disturbances, eating disturbances, etc. So, yes, they can.
Will crying help to heal trauma?
Crying is a cathartic process that not only promotes healing but also helps to build strength and resilience. But one should cry in healthy doses.
How to prevent childhood trauma?
If the child has a caring and positive parent, there is a chance to protect the child from adverse experiences. The child should know that they are cared for, supported, and loved by many people.
How can childhood trauma impact one’s development?
If the child experiences any trauma, then they will face difficulty in expressing, managing, and identifying emotions. The traumatic event’s stress reactions can lead them to suffer from anger issues, anxiety, and depression.
These are the things that you can do to help your child deal with traumatic experiences. If the child is going through a traumatic experience, do not try to hide it, or ignore it. You must acknowledge their experience and support them so that they can overcome it.
A traumatic experience can change their perspective and how they view their future or themselves. All the things mentioned above will together make a significant impact in helping them to recover from the repercussions of the trauma quickly
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Mother of Two children. I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for Good parenting. I understand child development and know how to develop activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.