Trauma has no age limits, both young and old can be impacted by traumatic events. But what can you do if you’re parenting a traumatized child? Below are a few tips:
While there are many similarities between children who have experienced trauma, each child has a unique way of processing, coping, and recovering from trauma. It’s up to you as a parent to find out how your child is handling trauma and to come up with strategies to make their recovery smoother.
Below are some of the most common symptoms children may display after a traumatic event:
- Withdrawal. They may stop socializing with friends or talking to family. If your outgoing child has suddenly become shy, then they may be struggling with trauma
- Obsessive. They may begin to talk about the traumatic event excessively. If you find that your child wakes up talking about their trauma and goes to bed talking about it, it may be because they’re having difficulty processing what’s happened. This obsessive behavior may also show up in your child’s drawings or stories that repeatedly recreate the traumatic event.
- Extreme Fear. If your child suddenly becomes afraid of the dark, scared to be left alone or constantly checks the locks on doors, they may have a higher sense of fear due to trauma.
Build A Foundation
To help your child recover from trauma you must build a strong foundation of security. Below are a few tips on how you can do that:
- Stabilize housing. If you’re planning to move soon, consider putting it off. Uprooting your child from their friends, family, and familiar surroundings can worsen symptoms of trauma and delay their recovery.
- Be honest. While you may be tempted to hide your emotions so that you can present a strong front to your child, lying about your sadness, fear, or anger can damage trust. Instead, be honest about what you’re feeling and let your child know their strong emotions are normal.
- Eliminate toxic people. By eliminating toxic personalities from your child’s environment, you’re helping them to become calmer, more confident, and turning your home into a safe place.
Empower Your Child
Create a reliable routine for the family, but allow your child to have some say in how they spend their time. For example, ask your child what time they want to go to the park—10am or 11am. Allowing your child to make small decisions about their day will help them feel more in control after a traumatic event.
If you find that your child is not recovering or is becoming more emotionally withdrawn (or volatile) reach out for help. There are many trauma counselors who have experience helping children heal.