You can play an important role in helping your children and teenagers recover from traumatic events. The more you learn about how traumatic events affect children, the more you will understand the reasons for your kids' behaviors and emotions, and the better prepared you will be to help them cope.
When you let your children know that you and other caring adults are working to keep them safe, that you are there to support them, and that there are people who can help them with what they are feeling, most children who have traumatic stress can recover and go on to live healthy and productive lives.
- Be patient. There is no correct timetable for healing. Try not to push your child to “just get over it.”
- Explain to your child that he or she is not responsible for what happened. Children often blame themselves for events, even those completely out of their control.
- Assure your child that he or she is safe. Talk about the measures you are taking to keep him or her safe at home and about what is being done at school to ensure his or her safety.
- Maintain regular home (mealtime, bedtime) and school routines to support the process of recovery. Make sure your child continues to go to school and stays in school.
- Learn about the common reactions that children have to traumatic events.
- Consider your own experience of your child’s traumatic event and any past traumatic events you may have experienced. Your own trauma history and your feelings about your child's trauma event will influence how you react.
- Consult a qualified mental health professional if your child’s distress continues for several weeks. Ask your child’s primary care physician or school for a referral to a mental health provider who has experience with child traumatic stress. Please contact CVIC at 701-746-0405 for free therapy options.
Excerpted with permission from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
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