Home » DIY, Medicine, Sgt. Doom » How to Help Children Deal with Trauma – Part 1

Today we’re starting a series concerning a very important, yet very problematic topic: how to help children deal with crises and disasters. Whether you’re a parent, uncle, grandparent or family friend, you might just end up in a situation where you have to help the little ones cope with emergencies, for their sake but also yours.

Children are fragile and vulnerable to their environment and they often need the help of an adult to understand what’s going on around them. They’re simply not yet equipped to cope with changes as well as adults are.

This is why when dealing with them you will need to pay attention to their mood swings, try to answer all their questions and observe them as much as you can.

The first factor that influences their reaction in a crisis is age – there are striking differences even between children who are only 1 or 2 years apart.

How to Help Children Deal with Trauma

 Here are some facts you should know:

Up to the age of 2, children cannot express their feelings through words, which makes it very difficult for the adult to figure out if he is traumatized. Usually, they memorize certain smells, sounds, images, objects and these will trigger certain emotions. In emergency situations, children cry more than usual; you can make them feel better by holding them in your arms.

At this age, the behavior of the parents is essential. When a traumatic event occurs to children this young, they are very likely to manifest themselves in the light of those events later on and you might not realize where it’s coming from.

Children from the next group age – 3 to 5 years old – might have the ability to speak, but there are still very vulnerable and powerless. They can’t protect themselves and they have a poor understanding of protection. They are dependent on their parents and they manifest fear when they are separated from them.

Another important aspect about preschoolers is that they can’t perceive loss. They will however notice and understand if something or someone is missing temporarily or for good. The memory of a traumatic event will be observable in their play for weeks after.

During school, age 7 to 10, children have a more profound understanding of loss. The memory of a trauma can haunt them for a while, and they may become obsessed by details of it. This kind of behavior is dangerous for it may affect their performance in school, because of lack of concentration.

Things get a little more complicated at this age because of the second environment – school. Their colleagues might tell them false information. Their reactions in such an event vary from sadness, to guilt, to anger and they might even fantasize that they are the rescuers.

Stay tuned for the second part on how to help children deal with trauma!

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