The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Extra Care for Your Child After Trauma

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A child’s reaction to trauma is much different than an adult’s, there’s no doubt about that. Yet, “they can expe­ri­ence equally pow­er­ful emo­tions,” writes John Page, senior vice pres­i­dent for Child, Ado­les­cent and Fam­ily Ser­vices at Cen­ter­stone:

[Children] often take in more infor­ma­tion than we real­ize and are acute observers of the world around them, espe­cially of tele­vi­sion images and radio messages.

The way chil­dren inter­pret these images and infor­ma­tion is quite dif­fer­ent from adults. It is impor­tant to encour­age our chil­dren to share their thoughts and feel­ings and to pro­vide sup­port and reas­sur­ance in times like these. Chil­dren also react dif­fer­ently to trauma based upon their ages.

How do we care for children after they experience trauma-related stress? Page recommends a few simple strategies:

  1. Routines: Page expressed the importance of keeping kids on track with their routines. Maintaining the structure of meal and bed times can be very beneficial.
  2. Finding the positive: Fun needs to remain a focal point for children, even after a stressful, traumatic time. Playing with other children can also help increase child-to-child communication, and can help­ “them recon­nect to reas­sure them that their friends are safe,” said Page.
  3. Acts of kindness: Allowing children to volunteer or show acts of kindness, such as donating a toy to a local charity, explains page, “allows chil­dren to express empa­thy and com­pas­sion while help­ing oth­ers and exert­ing con­trol over the tragic experience.”

Signs Your child May Need a Mental Health Professional

Page explains that there are several signs and/or indications that your child may benefit from the assistance of a professional. Children express a number of “typical reactions” to traumatic stress. It’s when these reactions don’t fade or become persistent that, Page advises, parent(s) should consider the help of a mental health professional.

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Written by traumalines

May 25, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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