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18 October 2023

Recognising Trauma in Children

Discussing trauma with your child can be a challenging but necessary conversation. If you suspect that your child has experienced a traumatic event, addressing their feelings and seeking support is essential for their well-being and your family’s overall health.

Recognising Signs of Trauma in Children

Children may display various signs when they have gone through a traumatic experience. These may present in behavioural changes such as:

  • Bedwetting: Sudden instances of bedwetting, especially if your child had outgrown this behaviour, can be a sign of distress.
  • Nightmares: Frequent nightmares or night terrors that disrupt their sleep can indicate emotional turmoil.
  • Changes in Eating Habits: A noticeable shift in their eating patterns, either eating significantly less or more, might signal underlying stress.
  • Excessive Crying: If your child is unusually tearful and agitated, it could be an emotional response to trauma.

As a parent, you are most attuned to your child’s behaviour. If you sense something isn’t right, trust your instincts and explore the issue. Your proactive approach can make a significant difference in their healing journey.

Approaching Difficult Conversations with Your Child

To foster open and honest communication with your child, create an environment where they feel safe discussing their feelings. Here are some strategies to help you navigate challenging conversations:

  • Promote a Safe Family Space: Teach your child from an early age that the family is a safe haven. Emphasise that they can talk about anything without fear of judgment. Reiterate your unwavering support and interest in their world.
  • Worry Ladder: Consider using a “worry ladder” with your child. Arrange worries on a scale from 1 to 10, with minor concerns at the bottom, medium worries in the middle, and significant ones at the top. This visual aid can help your child express their feelings.
  • Open and Frank Discussions: Encourage open and frank discussions. Let your child know they can come to you with any concerns, no matter how trivial or significant. Be a compassionate listener, allowing them to express their emotions freely.
  • Identify Trusted Adults: Discuss with your child the adults they can turn to if they ever need help or someone to talk to. Knowing they have a support network can provide them with a sense of security.

Remember that support is available for your child and your family. Effective treatments are in place to help children cope with trauma. You can reach out to:

  • Teachers: They often have experience in addressing emotional issues in children and can provide valuable guidance.
  • General Practitioners (GPs): Medical professionals can offer advice, assess your child’s well-being, and refer you to specialists if necessary.
  • Mental Health Professionals : Therapists, counsellors, or child psychologists can provide therapy and support tailored to your child’s specific needs.

There’s no shame in seeking help when it comes to your child’s emotional well-being. Recognising and addressing trauma is a significant step towards their healing and resilience. As a parent, your love, support, and proactive approach can make all the difference in healing from trauma.

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