Children are very sensitive in nature, and they tend to react faster than adults to effects of trauma. The after effects and scary emotions associated with a traumatic experience can have a more pronounced impact on children, whether they had direct experience with the traumatic event or were exposed to horrific media contents from the event.
Children who have passed through traumatic experiences need to feel safe and loved. Furthermore, they require the reassurance of being protected. It is the responsibility of parents who have children with traumatic experiences to provide this kind of environment for them, while protecting them from environments that lack it.
Sadly, many parents do not understand this concept and they fail to understand the damaging effects which having traumatic experiences can do to a child.
Sometimes parents might misinterpret the child’s behavior and end up feeling frustrated and angry at the child due to their own inabilities to handle their traumatic experiences.
Due to the vulnerable nature of children, they are more at risk to trauma than adults. However, providing the right support, and constant reassurance on the part of their parents or guardians plays a vital role in helping them recover, and overcome their fears related to their trauma. Parents need to understand the effects of trauma on children before being able to use effective parenting skills to help that child regain emotional balance.
Children who have experienced traumatic experiences often endorse the following symptoms:
- Openly display signs of fear
- Cling to parent or caregiver when reminded of their traumatic experience
- Cry, scream, or whimper
- Return to behaviors common to being younger, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting
- Have flashbacks to the event, nightmares, or other sleep problems
- Use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
- Become disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive
- Have physical complaints
- Feel isolated, guilty, or depressed
- Lose interest in hobbies
- Lose interest in friends, family, and fun activities
- Have nightmares or other sleep problems
- Become irritable, disruptive, or angry
- Struggle with school and homework
- Regular Complaints of physical problems
- Develop unfounded fears
Here are some things parents can do to help their traumatized child:
- Reduce their exposure to media contents
- Engage your child with interactive activities and devote more time to him/her.
- Offer your child validation and support
- Resist the urge to take your anger about the fact that your child experienced trauma, out on your child as children internalize these messages and often think that he or she is wrong
- Do not blame your child for the trauma that has happened to him or her
- Listen to your child in an unbiased way.
- Encourage participation in physical activity; it helps take their mind off of lingering thoughts.
- Feed your child a healthy nourishing diet.
- Endeavor to rebuild their trust and make them feel safe.
Managing the trauma of a child is not easy for anyone. If you would like support on this endeavor, please contact me at 844 – My Tech Talk!