Tips for Parents Coping with Trauma

The first step in helping your child with a traumatic situation is to recognize what a traumatic event might be. A traumatic situation is one that causes your child/family a great deal of pain. It could be the death of a family member, divorce, illness, family move, death of a pet, a friend moving away, a change in school, parent's loss of a job, or natural disaster, for example. Keep in mind all children and adults handle difficult situations in different ways. This page describes various types of responses you might find yourself, as a parent, experiencing.

During a time of stress it is important that you, as the parent/caregiver, take care of yourself and create a support system to help you cope with your time of trauma. In order for you to help your child you need to be available for your child, able to hear your child’s needs and know that your child will look to you, as the parent, for cues and advice as to how to respond and handle the given event.

Following are normal reactions that you, as an adult, might experience:

  • Easily irritated/become angry.
  • Cry a lot.
  • Want to withdraw or be alone.
  • Problems sleeping, dreaming of the event.
  • Eating problems.
  • Experience physical complaints, stomach aches and headaches.
  • Feeling anxious or depressed.
  • Fearful of a recurrence of the event.
  • Flash backs of the event.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

In order to help you deal with these reactions, it is important to:

  • Get enough rest.
  • Have someone to talk to, and share your feelings and fears.
  • Make time for physical activity such as walking or other exercise.
  • Eat well.
  • Allow yourself to take time off from work, if necessary.
  • Recognize that you are experiencing these feelings and that they are normal.