Tips and resources for comforting children in trauma

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comforting-children-in-traumaChildren often show signs of stress after a traumatic event. Signs may include sadness, tantrums, aggressive behavior, and a return to outgrown behavior. Signs may also include stomachaches and headaches, and an ongoing desire to stay home from school or away from friends. These signs are normal and usually do not last long. You can help your child with the following suggestions.

Tips for talking to children in Trauma:

Preschooler

  • Stick to regular family routines.
  • Make an extra effort to provide comfort and support.
  • Avoid separation.
  • Allow your child to sleep in the parents' room for a limited time.
  • Encourage your child to express feelings through play, drawing, puppet shows, and storytelling.
  • Limit media exposure.
  • Develop a safety plan for future incidents.

Elementary Age Children

  • Provide extra attention.
  • Set gentle but firm limits for acting out behavior.
  • Always listen to your child's telling of the experience.
  • Encourage your child to express feelings through talk and play.
  • Provide home chores and activities that are structured, but not too demanding.
  • Rehearse safety measures for future incidents.
  • Explain how people helped each other during the event.

Preadolescents and Adolescents

  • Provide extra attention.
  • Be there to listen to your child, but do not force talk about feelings.
  • Encourage discussion of experiences among peers.
  • Promote involvement with community recovery work.
  • Urge your child to take part in physical activities.
  • Support the return to regular activities.
  • Rehearse family safety measures for future incidents.
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