How to Manage Trauma in Children
How to Manage Trauma in Children
Trauma can be easy to miss in children.
After a traumatic event in a child’s life, the adults protecting them (parents, extended family, foster parents, teachers) are often unsure of the impact on their child’s mental wellness.
Parents and guardians will always do their best to help their children work through their emotional hardships. While many can help their children cope with their grief and anxiety in an emotionally healthy way, childhood trauma can easily spiral out of control.
Parents and guardians need to be aware that trauma experienced by their child may be beyond their abilities and may require a professional to treat.
In this post, we will detail what actions parents should take if they have identified signs of trauma in the children under their care.
How to Know if Your Child is Experiencing Trauma
Some children are at a higher risk than others for developing long-term trauma.
Children are at a higher risk if they have lost family members, close friends, classmates, or if they learned upsetting news in a particularly troubling or unstructured way.
The symptoms of trauma can take on many forms. Parents and guardians must be aware of the symptoms and keep an eye out for the development of their children after a traumatic event.
Parental help can only go so far. If your child is showing persistent symptoms of trauma (lasting greater than 4 weeks after the inciting incident) then they need professional help.
Beyond the more detailed symptoms listed in last month’s post, here are a few key indicators that a child may be suffering from trauma.
- Regular crying more than 4 weeks after the incident.
- Ongoing nightmares.
- Withdrawal or needing to be near a parent.
- The child has become fascinated with death.
- The child has become obsessed or fixed on their own safety or safety of others
- Sudden and new issues sleeping, eating, controlling anger, or bids for connection.
- The child is triggered by events or specific things (for example, the birthday of someone who has died).
- Continued refusal to go to a specific space (such as school, or the place where the traumatic event happened).
Persistent symptoms of trauma require treatment by a trained mental health professional.
In extreme cases, untreated trauma can result in life-long post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In less radical situations, children can develop symptoms of PTSD which can cause them problems throughout their lives. It is important for parents to understand that, with appropriate treatment, recovery from trauma is possible.
Healthy Children Grow into Healthy Adults
As a parent, if you are worried that your child may be dealing with trauma or undue stress, the best course of action is to seek professional help.
The worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. Children are not capable of dealing with intense trauma on their own and need help talking through their issues.
Time spent in childhood working through traumatic issues helps children develop effective coping strategies. Children who are emotionally healthy and able to deal with difficult emotions grow into healthy, well-functioning adults.
If you have noticed your child is suffering from symptoms of trauma, then it is time to reach out to Child Focus.
Child Focus’ mission is to help all children and families find their strength and potential. Child Focus is a leader in the industries of early childhood and behavioral health. We create responsive and innovative programs in collaboration with individuals, families, community agencies, and institutions.