Exposure to trauma for children can have pervasive effects throughout the child’s life. It is therefore important for the child’s caregivers – teachers, community members, parents and therapists – to take the right steps to reduce the after-effects of childhood trauma. This article provides information for caregivers relating to childhood trauma and how best to deal with it.
Facts about traumatic events
- Nearly 50 percent of all children have been exposed to some form of trauma, with many having such events occurring more than once. Some continue to be exposed to such events without treatment/recovery between episodes. These include events related to terrorism, abuse, natural disasters, traumatic loss and violence among others.
- Children will suffer acute distress following a traumatic life event but can return to ‘normalcy’ with adequate support from trusted adults and family members. Some will need clinical intervention depending on the extent of trauma, age and maturity of the child
- How a parent or trusted adult reacts to the child’s trauma impacts the child’s own reaction to the event in some way. Culture and developmental levels may also affect the child’s responses.
- Few children that need clinical intervention actually receive these services when needed. Among these, even fewer are correctly diagnosed and given treatments that can effectively restore the child’s sense of balance and control
Tips for helping a child overcome or cope with trauma
- Be optimistic about the child’s potential for full recovery. Family members and everyone around the child should be educated on the normal trauma reactions and how to deal with them and when to ask for help
- Match response to recovery phase – in the aftermath of the event, ensure that basic needs are taken care of, i.e., safe shelter, reunion with family members, etc. Follow up responses over time and provide clinical intervention if you’re not sure about anything. Try to keep the child’s life in the routine they know.
- Ensure trauma scenes are properly cleaned by calling on trauma cleaning UK services and change up arrangement of furniture so that the child doesn’t relieve the event every time they walk into the room where it happened. If necessary, you may need to move house for a while depending on the extent of trauma.
- Allow the child to express their feelings when they need to. Key adults should also be careful about managing their reactions as children tend to observe adults to know how to react to events beyond their understanding. This also means respecting the child’s wishes when they don’t want to talk about the event(s).
- Watch out for any risks of adverse reactions. You can talk to a trauma or grief counselor to know what signs to watch out for.
- Ensure the child’s physical health if taken care of – try to take them out to play or get some air. Ensure they eat balanced meals and any symptoms are treated in the right way. Follow doctor’s instructions to the letter.
Following these tips can help to mitigate the after-effects of traumatic life events on a child’s life. The most important thing is to surround the child with love and support so that they can slowly mend themselves within a safe space and with the help of supportive adults.
The author has over fifteen years’ experience in handling trauma and related events such as trauma cleaning UK services. He has shared countless articles on the same in various platforms. Connect with him via LinkedIn and Twitter.