It's never easy when a traumatic event happens to you, your family or within the community. The harder part is helping your child deal with the trauma.
The first thing everyone tells you to do is to "remain calm as possible" and as much as we do not need to hear this at the moment of hardship, it is important to keep this in mind as your child will take in all of your emotions.
Here are a few tips to help you cope with trauma with your child:
1. Be real about the situation. Depending on the child's age, it is important to explain the traumatic event as accurately as possible without giving graphic details about the situation. It's important to be mindful of our little ones and it's helped us not to give more information than what the child asks for.
2. Be sympathetic about the situation. It's important for your child to express their feelings and for you to let them know that it is normal to feel upset, angry or even scared. Sometimes as parents, we may not realize that when watching the news to inform ourselves about the situation, the child is retaining this and unknowingly, taking in the stress as well. What has helped us is once we have been updated with the situation on t.v., we turn it off and watch the updates on 11:00 p.m. news (when the younger kids are not around), to avoid unnecessary stress on them. We know watching these replays of the traumatic event on t.v. can create anxiety, so we try and avoid this. We also avoid speaking about "worst case scenarios" in front of them. You know, it's the mama bear in me saying "I need to protect my children from what they don't need to know at this time."
3. Be there for them. Reassure them that they are not alone and that you will do everything you can to keep them safe. Encourage them to ask you questions and let them know that you are there for them.
If your child is still showing traumatic signs like change in eating habit, emotional numbing or difficulty in sleeping (just to name a few) seek your doctor for further assistance.
At the moment of trauma, it is important to be there for your child, communicate with them and make them feel loved and safe. Trauma is never easy, so it's important to stick together and continue to surround yourself with a positive support system.
By momstownTeam-Diana Dunnell