During the holiday season, children who have experienced trauma tend to act differently during a time of change in their schedules. Many children rely on routines to hold it together throughout the day. Adults don’t always realize that their traumatic event, such as divorce or a breakup, can really affect their own children. As they are able to cope with a situation, it leaves children not being able to. This article will help you to understand why it’s important for children of trauma to seek therapy.
What is trauma?
Traumatic experiences include but are not limited to divorce, alcoholism, drugs, abuse, being taken away from parents, living with other families, losing your home, and losing a relative. Many children of trauma act out completely different. There are a lot of signs that you can be looking for when dealing with children who have experienced trauma. The Child Mind Institute has a great article on the signs of trauma in children.
A traumatic event is a frightening, dangerous, or violent event that poses a threat to a child’s life or bodily integrity. Witnessing a traumatic event that threatens life or physical security of a loved one can also be traumatic. This is particularly important for young children as their sense of safety depends on the perceived safety of their attachment figures.
Traumatic experiences can initiate strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. Children may feel terror, helplessness, or fear, as well as physiological reactions such as heart pounding, vomiting, or loss of bowel or bladder control. Children who experience an inability to protect themselves or who lacked protection from others to avoid the consequences of the traumatic experience may also feel overwhelmed by the intensity of physical and emotional responses. The anxiety and stress will come out in all different shapes and forms.
Acting out at school, being overly emotional, wearing an excessive amount of clothing, running away, problems with sleeping and eating, and anger are all signs of trauma. For parents experiencing a similar trauma to their children, it is hard to notice the signs. That article is a great beginning reference of how to notice trauma in your child.
Seek therapy immediately
Once you have identified that your child is experiencing trauma or have witnessed a traumatic event, therapy is the best option. Unlike adults, children have no idea how to handle their emotions about situations. Even if they look like they are handling the situation appropriately, still seek therapy. Children have no idea how to handle emotions, especially sadness. They need to talk about it and understand it. If parents are going through the same trauma, a breakup or divorce, they are most likely feeling similar emotions. This makes it hard to help a child deal with the situation because there might be bias and anger involved. BetterHelp provides options for therapy that can work with your schedule.
But they’re fine!
A child’s main goal is to please you. So if they see you upset, then they are going to do their best to make you happy. This can include putting on a happy face for you, but then when going to school is where their real emotions are coming out. The best thing that you can do for a child who has experienced trauma is to get them some extra help. Being able to help them express their feelings and get out their anger or sadness is extremely important for them in their upcoming years. Teaching to the fact that having emotions is okay and that there are outlets to express them. Don’t just assume that they are fine because they aren’t crying every day.
Knowing that children are not going to handle situations the same way is the first step to helping them. Finding therapy is not only important for them but also for you. When life changes occur, it is important to talk them through and try to deal with them instead of pushing them aside. Just because you are able to cope through something does not mean everyone else can. Love them with open arms and listen to what they need.
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