Is my Child Traumatized?

Connie Omari, PhD LPC, NCC on Oct 11, 2018 in Relationship and Family

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 or natural disaster 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, 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. 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. In other cases their efforts to address disturbing behavior may not yield any positive change and might backfire in the process.

While Children are known to be more at risk to trauma than adults, 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. 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 and regain their trust.

Children who have experienced trauma often display 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
• Turning to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco for succor.
• Be 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

Parents play a great role in helping kids with traumatic experiences to overcome the trauma. Irrespective of your child’s age, it is important to offer your support and constant reassurance to them following a traumatic event. The reaction of children to traumatic events can be greatly influenced by their parents perceived response.

So educating yourself on how to handle such situations as a parent can be of tremendous help to you. Let’s check out the following tips which help to make parenting kids with traumatic experience much easier.

1. Reduce their exposure to media contents
2. Engage your child with interactive activities and devote more time to him/her.
3. Encourage participation in physical activity; it helps take their mind off any lingering thoughts.
4. Feed your child a healthy and nourishing diet.
5. Endeavor to rebuild their trust and make them feel safe.

Managing the charm of a child is not easy for anyone. If you would like the support on this endeavor, please contact me.

Connie Omari is a Counselor in Raleigh, NC.

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