​​​​​​​​Florida Psychological Associates LLC

Talking Children Through Trauma

2016 National Children’s Health Survey by the Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative reports that thirty-eight percent of children in every state has at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). Examples of an ACE include but are not limited to the death or incarceration of a parent, witnessing or being a victim of violence, or living with someone who has been suicidal or had a drug or alcohol problem.  In the recent events, we thought it might be helpful for us to offer tips for children that have exposed to traumatic experiences. 

  • Take their lead. Let them bring it up in conversation. Listening is the most important thing initially. They will ask questions and want to discuss the topic in their own time. 
  • Don’t avoid the topic. Be open to answering questions. One way to do this is to be physically available. Something as simple as sitting next to them on the couch while they watch television could help spark a conversation.
  • However, do not harp on the subject or force a child to talk about the traumatic event. Gently remind them that they can talk whenever they are ready. 
  • Giving your child simple choices helps them feel some control when their environment has felt out of control. Choosing food, clothes, what games to play—any appropriate choices—can be helpful.
  • Manage your own trauma stress reactions to ensure you are able to present a calm, steady presence for your child.  Do not be afraid to show emotion with your child. Keep in mind that the parent is a refuge of comfort for the child. Seek solace and counsel from other adults to manage your own emotions.  This will help you have the energy necessary to take care of your children. Your ability to cope with this disaster will help your children cope as well.
  • Stick to routines when possible to maintain a feeling of safety and comfort despite tragic events. Maintaining stability is crucial for play times, meals, and bedtimes. This helps them to know what is coming next and establish normalcy.
  • Seek help if needed- from local providers such as FPA! If you feel that your child might bene to talking to a professional, do not hesitate to reach out for additional help. Ask their school counselor for referrals or recommendations. 

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