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One in four children experiences a traumatic event by the time they’re 18 years old, which can initiate strong emotions and physical reactions that persist for a long time. Life-threatening events such as sudden illness, car accidents, abuse, violence, death in the family, and crime can cause trauma. But how do you deal with a child who’s been through trauma?Parents mustn’t take their kids’ behaviour personally and allow them to express their feelings without judgement. In the wake of a traumatic event, comfort, support, and reassurance can make a youngster feel safe. It doesn’t matter if a child has lived through a disturbing event or witnessed it; they’re likely to experience intense, confusing, and frightening emotions.
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How Do You Deal with A Child Who’s Been Through Trauma?
Using the following strategies, you can help your kid manage troubling symptoms, rebuild their sense of safety, and, above all, move on from the traumatic event.
Parent With Patience and Warmth
Patience is something that many of us wish we had more of. It means staying calm, even if your child violently acts out, focusing on the bigger picture. Strive to be patient not only with your kid but also with yourself. If you’re feeling stressed, your kid will pick up on that and start acting out – they’re not able to calm down on their own, so they need your help. Following a traumatic event, youngsters become jumpy and have an exaggerated response. They may think that others are out to get them. You must give your child lots of kindness and loving care (not just when they do something right).
Words of encouragement can be a powerful tool to empower kids when they struggle. Saying something like “I have faith in you”, “I’m ready to listen”, or “You’re more than your emotions” can make all the difference in a child’s day. By using praise, you can help your kid understand when they do well and feel proud of themselves. It will motivate them to keep trying hard. Nonetheless, praise also has a dark side. To be more precise, praising the outcome forces your child to focus only on the outcome, so they’ll be motivated by your pleasure. Consequently, you should praise the process, not the person so that you don’t undermine your kid’s enjoyment of and motivation for certain things.
Maintain Routines as Much as Possible
Family routines help youngsters feel safe and secure, so, to the best of your ability, have healthy meals, focus on exercise or outdoor play, and encourage your child to go to bed at every hour to provide a nurturing home. If you’ve temporarily relocated, establish new routines; create something basic and stick to it. These routines matter because they don’t last forever and are important indicators of how your kid is doing. Since it takes time to develop new habits, practice, practice, and practice some more. You’ll want to be sure your child knows the step to the routine, fair and square.
Identify Hurting Beliefs & Replace Them with Healing Beliefs
Survivors of trauma experience adverse experiences, which leave them feeling terror, guilt, shame, grief, or panic. The traumatic event affects their identity, and their identity affects their perception and understanding of the trauma. Your child might have a difficult time being consistent. Everyone changes their mind about things. It’s completely normal. Nevertheless, someone with identity problems will feel like a stranger in the presence of things they don’t like. It’s up to you to help your kid identify hurting beliefs and replace them with healing beliefs. If your kid is old enough, they’ll understand the process takes time and will require practice to develop.
Try as you might to help your child, you’re in over your head. A therapist is good at helping them recognise what’s normal and what isn’t while offering reassurance. During the counselling sessions, the therapist will help your kid understand their problem, provide a diagnosis, and offer long-term solutions for healing. Seeking the guidance of a trained professional can be expensive, though. Children who are the victims of a violent crime (or a form of abuse) are entitled to compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. For more information, please visit https://www.compensationcalculatoruk.co.uk/criminal-injuries-compensation-calculator/. The claim must be made before their 20th birthday.
Minimise The Media Exposure
Next tip when you are managing how to deal with a child who’s been through trauma is ensuring that you keep the media coverage to a minimum.
Youngsters who’ve experienced a traumatic event often find media coverage to be further traumatising, as it shows their personal grief. Not only does media exposure lead to acute stress, but it can also trigger post-traumatic stress symptoms, so don’t let your child watch the news or spend too much time on social media before they go to bed. You can reassure your kid there’s nothing to worry about and place information in context. For instance, explain that there are many people who will do their best to keep them safe if something goes wrong. Most importantly, you should encourage your child to ask questions if they don’t understand something.
Cut Yourself (And Your Child) Some Slack
You put too much pressure on yourself to make a positive impact. Cut yourself some slack. Stop when you notice you’re stressed out, accept you’re doing the best you can, cultivate compassion, and choose what you want to do next. Your kid isn’t purposefully trying to drive you crazy and make you feel like a failure. Kids need happy parents, not perfect ones. Anger, sorrow, frustration, and guilt call attention to what’s missing, and clarity comes only after chaos. Give yourself a break, especially if things don’t go according to plan. Perfection is something that no one can achieve.
Wrapping It Up
So how do you deal with a child who’s been through trauma? Every person has a built-in alarm system that keeps them safe from harm. When activated, it can be perceived as a sign of trouble, leaving youngsters feeling angry, scarred, and even withdrawn. The impact of trauma can last well beyond childhood. Pay attention to your child’s verbal and non-verbal cues; some kids prefer writing, playing music, or doing an art project as an outlet. You can talk to your kid about anything, provided it’s developmentally appropriate. As you can imagine, communicating with a 5-year-old is completely different from communicating with a 15-year-old.