Children who see violence or who experience traumatic things need to be watched, loved and supported in order to heal.
Jogged by the case of little 5-year-old Ethan from Alabama who was recently freed from his abductor after six days in an underground bunker and prior to that witnessing the shooting death of his bus driver, we ask, how does a 5-year-old heal from a traumatic ordeal? How does a little child go on after witnessing a violent death or even experiencing a scary tornado causing damage, injury or death? Doctors say that when children experience a traumatic event, family and professional support in the aftermath is critical. Even support from friends and neighbors. Different children will react differently, so it’s not always textbook to know how a child will be following a harrowing incident.
Mommys and daddys can work wonders with traumatized children, says Steven Marans, director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence/Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale University’s Child Study Center. Marans says children need to be with their families as soon as possible after they’ve been traumatized by an event, although sometimes trauma can be related to an ongoing experience such as domestic violence or otherwise.
It’s helpful to know is that most kids WILL bounce back from a single incident of trauma, and that if something very difficult such as trauma happens to your child, the first thing to do is to provide support.
• Provide ample time for listening to the child
• Reassure the child that he is safe, but watch for changes in behavior
• Find the balance between dwelling too much on the trauma and leaving it alone
• If your child is not responding to your efforts, seek the help of a professional counselor
HOW TO RECOGNIZE TRAUMA IN KIDS
• Anxiety from trauma can lead to poor eating and stomach discomfort
• Kids can become more dependent than before
• Irritability can set in