The intense, confusing, and frightening emotions that follow a traumatic event or natural disaster can be even more pronounced in children—whether they directly experienced the traumatic event or were repeatedly exposed to horrific media images after the fact. While children and adolescents are more vulnerable to being traumatized than adults, with the right support and reassurance, they are also able to recover faster. Using these coping tips, you can help your child regain an emotional balance, restore their trust in the world, and move on from the trauma.
What are the effects of trauma on children?
Unexpectedly losing a loved one or being involved in a natural disaster, motor vehicle accident, plane crash, or violent attack can be overwhelmingly stressful for children. A traumatic event can undermine their sense of security, leaving them feeling helpless and vulnerable, especially if the event stemmed from an act of violence, such as a physical assault, mass shooting, or terrorist attack. Even kids or teens not directly affected by a disaster can become traumatized when repeatedly exposed to horrific images of the event on the news or social media.
Whatever the age of your child, it’s important to offer extra reassurance and support following a traumatic event. A child’s reaction to a disaster or trauma can be greatly influenced by their parents’ response, so it’s important to educate yourself about trauma and traumatic stress. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your child recover. With your love and support, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress can start to fade and your child’s life can return to normal in the days or weeks following the event.