Children are gifts and blessings to our lives, especially when you see them discover their identities as they grow up. Unfortunately, there are instances in life that we can’t control, and we’re not always aware of what our children are experiencing. As much as we want to protect our children from harm, trauma is something that can happen to them.
Many children, worldwide, experience trauma, often leading to symptoms of Post Traumatic Symptoms Disorder. Numbers suggest that in 2013 alone, as many as 800,000 Australians suffered from some symptoms of PTSD, at any given time. However, we aren’t able to protect our children at all times and sometimes having an understanding of traumatic events and the symptoms of trauma can help you recognise when your child is experiencing any difficulty and ensure they get the professional assistance to help them process the trauma. Here are some types of trauma and violence that children may experience:
- Abuse: Abuse can include emotional, physical, sexual, and/or neglect. Both single incident or multiple traumas can have long-term effects on the child’s well-being, ability to concentrate and ability to regulate their own emotions. Abuse can occur both inside the home and in the environment outside the home, such as at school or at sporting facilities.
- Accidents: Has your child been involved in an accident or witnessed in an accident? Children can be impacted through being involved in an accident or witnessing an accident occur, especially if a loved one has been impacted.. You may notice behavioural changes in child that can last for the long-term, such as flashbacks, being clingy, or withdrawing from activities.
- Bereavement: Grief and loss are things that happen to everyone, and we all have our ways of processing the emotions that come with them. Unfortunately, not all children are equipped with the means to properly adjust to grieving, and sometimes the loss of a family member, a friend, or even a pet can affect your child in ways we can’t predict. Providing your child with the skills to deal with grief and loss and assist them in processing the emotions and help them to normalise feeling of grief.
- Catastrophic events: Sometimes, catastrophic events such as severe weather conditions can traumatise a child. This is especially true if you and/or your child has been subjected to the effects of the catastrophe – such as having to seek shelter elsewhere, losing a home, or being in an environment where people feel scared and overwhelmed by their circumstances.
- Physical injury: Sometimes, children can be extremely active and agile, given their energy levels, often taking greater risks than we would, as adults. Children can lead very active lifestyles through sports and play and injury is often inevitable. Usually, children will be emotionally impacted by these injuries but you may notice an impact on mental health when they start to withdraw or avoid activities, have nightmares, or become fearful of participating.
- Bullying: Children are sometimes impacted by bullying, both online or at school and they, often, they will not disclose this to their parents. The impacts of bullying can be dramatic, resulting in children feeling that the world is no longer a safe place. Helping children to build resilience and learn strategies to cope with bullying is an important tool to reduce the impact of the trauma.
If you believe that your child has been impacted by trauma, seeking professional help can be useful in helping you and your child navigate the symptoms and gain a better understanding of the child’s emotional responses. Life Resolutions trained psychologists who’ll work with you and your child to help manage difficult situations that may present in the child’s everyday life, ensuring that they return to a full, and active lifestyle.
As a parent, you only want the best for your child. You don’t want them to suffer in any way. In times when traumatic events from the past adversely affect your child now, seeking professional help and showing support throughout the process are some of the things you can do to achieve long-term recovery. Trauma therapy can be a long-term commitment, requiring consistency from yourself and your child, but with regular therapy, trauma symptoms can be reduced.