Raising children in violent environments can be scary for parents, but it can be especially frightening for children. Even if your child was born and raised in a rough part of town, everyday run-ins with violence can cause trauma. Below are signs that your child may be traumatized and a few tips on what you can do to help them heal and feel safe again.
Trauma Signs In Children
Children who are traumatized may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Violent play (recreating violent scenes they’ve experienced)
- Eating more or less than they usually eat
- Unwillingness to be alone
- Fear of going outside or to school
- Lack of emotion after a traumatic event
- Ongoing worry about violence or the safety of loved ones
Helping Traumatized Children Heal
There are a few things parents or guardians can do to help traumatized children heal. Let’s take a look at them:
- Changing environments. If you live in a dangerous neighborhood, moving can do wonders for helping your child heal from trauma. But if you move, be careful to keep your child’s support network intact.
- Making a safe zone. Even if you can’t change neighborhoods, you can greatly help the trauma recovery process by creating safe places for your child. For example, your home should be a place where the child is free from experiencing violence, but you could also work with neighbors and family to create other spaces that are relatively safe for the child.
- Provide protection. It’s important that children feel that they are protected by the adults around them. Show your child that you will do all that you can to keep them safe. When they have nightmares about a traumatic event, soothe them and assure them that you will do everything in your power to protect them.
- Limit access to violent materials. If your child has been traumatized by violence, you should limit their consumption of violent television, books, music, and video games. While this may be more difficult with teenagers, you should try to counteract violent images with positive activities that are fun and safe.
- Provide a daily routine. Keeping a daily routine can keep children preoccupied and lower stress. If your child has had a traumatic experience try to avoid dramatic changes to their life as they go through the healing process.
- Work with a trauma care counselor. Child trauma survivors benefit greatly from therapy. An experienced trauma counselor can help them process traumatic events and develop the coping skills necessary to heal.
If your child has experienced trauma, watch for the signs and then take action so that their recovery process will be a smooth one.