Preventing PTSD in children is an issue addressed frequently at Different Dream. Today, we welcome Lydia Jenkins, D.O. Pediatrics, whose excellent article about preventing PTSD in children first appeared on the Parenting Pod website. The article is featured here today in hopes of equipping parents of children who’ve experienced trauma promote mental healing. Without further ado, here it is.
Preventing PTSD: 11 Things To Do If Your Child Has Been Through Trauma
Knowing that your child has gone through a traumatic event is arguably one of the most stressful, devastating, and overwhelming things a parent can experience. And yet, since parents serve as a child’s strongest source of support and safety in everyday life, they must muster the courage to calmly deliver this support, especially after a child experiences a traumatic event.
If your child has experienced a trauma, you may feel anxious about what to do to help him recover.
Every child will likely experience some form of stress in early life, whether it be a car accident, death of a loved one, a stressful move, or another more traumatic experience like war, abuse. Most children naturally develop negative emotional reactions to aversive experiences, but those negative feelings are most often self-limited, resolving over time. In a minority of children, however, their symptoms become more severe and persistent, and eventually develop into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A child with PTSD will experience a specific set of symptoms for at least 1-month:
- Re-experiencing the trauma (flashbacks or nightmares)
- Avoidance (avoiding upsetting memories and reminders)
- Hyperarousal (persistent sleep disturbances, “jumpiness,” heightened startle reflexes)
- Negative mood and cognition (persistent negative views of others or self, anxious/depressed affect)
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