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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

6 ways that every parent can support their child after trauma

If you are a parent or carer of a child who has experienced a traumatic event, it can feel overwhelming, upsetting and confusing knowing what you can do to help. This is true for parents and carers whether the traumatic event is a one off, like a fire or a car accident, or whether it is something that has been happening repeatedly, like child abuse. 

We know from lots of studies and research that kids who have had a traumatic experience do much better when their parents or carers are coping well and are there to support them. So what are the steps that you can take to support your child and help them to get through all the emotions that they may be experiencing after the event. 

Well, there are many ways that you can provide support. We have put together a list of 6 effective ways that can be a great starting point for helping your child. 

  1. Get information. It is really helpful if you educate yourself about what sort of thoughts, feelings and emotions your child may experience after a traumatic event and how these may come out in their behaviour or play. There is lots of information available on the internet that can help you to understand how trauma impacts on children of different ages and stages. Knowing more about how your child may possibly react can help you to support your child. 
  2. Acknowledge feeling or loss and fear, and other emotions, that your child may demonstrate. Provide assurance to your child that the thoughts, feelings and reactions they are having are normal even though they may be upsetting. 
  3. Reassure your child that they will feel better over time and that if they need extra support to feel better, you will make sure it is there for them. 
  4. Encourage your child to feel free to talk about the traumatic event if they wish to. Don't push them to talk if they are not ready and also be aware if they are talking about the event all the time. 
  5. Model positive coping strategies. Children who see their parents using a number of positive coping strategies to cope with difficult circumstances are more likely to also cope better themselves. 
  6. Demonstrate to your child that you have an optimistic view of the future. Tell them that even though things may be especially difficult right now, there is hope that things will get better. 
Overall, keep in mind, that most children will get through the experience of a traumatic event and return to normal within the weeks and months that follow without the need from any additional support. However, if you do have concerns about how your child may be coping, remember to talk to your GP, child health worker or school counsellor. 

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