Perhaps your child or children have recently experienced a traumatic event. Maybe this was an event that your family went through together, or your child was the only one who faced this trauma. Either way, you’re now trying to figure out how to give your child the love and care they need during this difficult time.
As a parent, you want to do everything you can to help your child heal. But you might not be sure what they need. Navigating trauma alongside your children can be difficult, but with the right approach, you can ensure that your child feels loved and supported. Here are a few things you can do to help your children cope with trauma in a healthy way.
Make Your Children Feel Safe
First, it’s extremely important to help establish an atmosphere of safety and trust within your home after your child has experienced a traumatic event. Showing your child physical affection can help.
Furthermore, sticking to routines is a good idea, as it gives your child a sense of structure and predictability in a time that can feel chaotic otherwise. Finally, take steps to make your home environment feel like a safe space.
Have Open Conversations
Depending on how old your child is, they might have lots of questions for you about what happened. Be ready to talk to your child about their trauma and don’t discourage them from starting these open conversations. Be ready to comfort and reassure them.
Remember, it’s okay if you need to tell your child occasionally that you don’t know the answer to something. What’s most important is that they know they can always come to you with their questions without facing judgment.
Don’t Burden Your Children
Right now, your child might be wondering if what happened was their fault. They may even feel a sense of guilt or shame for what they went through. It’s crucial that you explain to your child why trauma is never the survivor’s fault.
Your child may be shouldering an intense emotional burden, especially if they believe they’re responsible for their trauma. As their parent, navigating what comes next is your job now, and you need to lead your child through this difficult period.
Watch for Signs of PTSD
Not everyone who lives through trauma experiences post-traumatic stress disorder, but many trauma survivors do. PTSD can affect people of all ages, and it is not limited to people who lived through specific types of trauma. Lots of traumatic events can lead to PTSD down the line.
Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs that your child may have developed PTSD. This can include night terrors, which are often far more disturbing and disruptive than typical bad dreams, irritability, fear of certain people or places, or a loss of interest in their previous interests and hobbies.
Maybe you’ve noticed that your child is experiencing PTSD symptoms. Alternatively, you may not have observed any symptoms. But you can’t help but wonder if your child would benefit from having more support than you can give as an individual. If your child has experienced trauma, it’s never a bad idea to reach out to a therapist.
You can work with a therapist who will allow you and your child to attend sessions together and give you the option to send your child in for individual sessions. Take the time to find a therapist who your child truly feels comfortable with.
Are you trying to support your children in the aftermath of a traumatic event? Therapy can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.