In a previous episode, we talked about a very young girl who had been in ICU for ten days. During her stay and especially afterwards, her parents noticed how much her personality had changed. In the short span of ten days, she had become aloof as well as combative and aggressive towards her mother.
This change in personality was a result of her mother holding her down as procedures took place. When her mother held her down, the terrified little girl had no idea how to process and understand what was happening to her. As a result, these behaviors occurred.
Everyone, including younger children, can be affected by trauma. Life-threatening events such as car accidents, fires, bullying, sudden illness, death of a family member, crime, abuse or violence can all cause trauma for the child. A young child’s language is still developing, so it is important to look for other clues in their behaviour and the way they play to understand if the trauma has had an effect on them.
Children’s responses can vary, but common reactions you might notice are clingy behaviour. jumpiness, or changes in patterns. The child may start having nightmares, eat differently, use the bathroom irregularly or have trouble paying attention. You might think they have slipped back in time as they begin showing signs of acting like their younger selves and regressing.
You might also notice mood changes. They might not seem to enjoy the same daily routines or activities that they used to like. Some children may become a combination of withdrawn and aggressive, like the young girl we talked about in a previous episode.
If there has been a trauma or if you notice that your child has changed in some way, get curious. Ask yourself if they may have gone through something they are not sure how to deal with. Get curious and stay tuned for ways to help them as we go deeper into trauma knowledge.
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Hi, welcome back. Let’s take some time to talk about what we can do to help children who have experienced trauma. One of the most powerful ways to help a child feel safe is touch. It’s so important for children to feel wanted. Extra cuddling, hugs or just giving them a rub on the back can help to soothe them and calm their fears. This simple action gives them a feeling of security that is very important after a frightening or disturbing event happens.
Another way to support them is to act calm. Children look to adults for reassurance after something traumatic has happened.
It is also important to maintain a routine. Routine reassures children that life will one day be okay again. It’s also important to stick with the same family rules as before the incident, if possible.
Also, tell them about what’s happened. It’s always best to learn the details of a traumatic event from a safe, trusted parent or adult. Be brief and honest, and allow the kids to ask questions and lead the direction of the conversation. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to not presume kids are worrying about the same things you are....