Stress Management

7 Ways to Help a Child Deal with Traumatic Stress

The concept of traumatic stress is not a new one. It is used to describe the negative emotional and psychological impacts a person can have after experiencing a traumatic event. It is important to note that the effects of traumatic stress are not limited to the individual who experienced the traumatic event. Instead, the effects of traumatic stress can be felt by everyone who has contact with the individual, such as parents who witness their child’s pain, teachers whose students are affected, and even friends who are forced to witness the trauma. The symptoms of traumatic stress can manifest themselves in many ways: emotional, physical, and behavioral.

Traumatic stress is something many people have heard about, but it is seldom discussed in the media.  Traumatic stress is a serious condition that can have long-term, lifelong implications. Exposure to trauma in childhood can cause long-term problems, from poor emotional regulation to depression, anxiety, and anger. When children have a traumatic experience, they often react by withdrawing and being overwhelmed by their symptoms.  

Children and teens can experience a form of traumatic stress much like adults. They may have to deal with frightening incidents, such as pain, death, or abuse. Some children may experience this trauma more than once, which can be traumatizing in itself.

As a result, they may lose their ability to communicate effectively about their feelings, experience difficulty sleeping, and have difficulty concentrating. It’s not uncommon to find children with traumatic stress who cannot articulate their feelings and may not want to talk about their traumatic event. This makes it hard for a parent or caregiver to understand what is happening and help the child.

In this article, we’ll show you 7 ways to help a child deal with traumatic stress. Let’s get started.

  1. Traumatic experiences are difficult for everyone to deal with, and they can seriously impact children. Some children may experience acute trauma and need professional help, and others may experience a more insidious form of trauma over a longer period. Being there for a child can help with traumatic stress.
  1. When you speak to a child struggling with traumatic stress, you may feel frustrated and angry. Your anger may seem like a natural reaction, but it may have a negative impact on the child’s ability to heal and develop skills to manage that stress. You should gently speak to them, and they’ll be more open if you do it this way.
  1. A child who’s been through a traumatic event may struggle to develop appropriate coping skills and may feel distressed and anxious. If you can’t get them to talk first, you can try playing with them as well. You can also get to know these children while playing.
  1. Another way to help them is by naming what they are feeling. You can use stories or even personal ones, ones that you’ve experienced, to help with putting language on the child’s emotions. There are other ways, too. You can also show them drawings of faces with different emotions, and they can point towards the one they feel.
  1. Help the child express their feelings. Emotions shouldn’t be pent-up inside you and this is most common with children who deal with traumatic stress. A good example would be that if this child is in danger, it automatically causes fear. Fear signals the body to run away from danger, but if they are in a situation where they don’t have the option to run to safety, the feelings will just be trapped and can lead to traumatic stress.
  1. You can help them by holding or hugging them if the child accepts it. This can help soothe the stressed-out nervous system of the child.
  1. Lastly, give reassurance to the child. This can go a long way and remember not to lie to them. Look for truthful things that you can say to give reassurance to the child. Tell them that they are safe and that they aren’t alone. If they feel bad, these children tend to internalize shame, and they feel that they are bad kids. Giving reassurance that they did not do anything wrong and that they’re important can greatly help.  

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