Tips for Parents Coping with Trauma

Begin by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. This will help you relax and gain control of your emotions.

When you talk with your child, it is of utmost importance that you are as calm as possible and have control of yourself and your emotions.Your child will look to you for strength and how to react to the situation. If you should lose control, your child might become worried about you making the situation even more difficult for them to handle.

Let your child know you love them and care about them and want to know how they are feeling.

Listen to your child and his/her feelings. Validate what they are saying. If you are experiencing some of the same feelings, share that. It is important to let your child know their feelings are normal and they are not the only ones having them. When sharing be sure to share and not take the lead.

Ask open-ended questions that will give your child permission to express his/her feelings. Explore their various fears and concerns. Repeat feelings and facts that seem to keep coming up or appear to be key points or worries.

Pay attention to your child’s questions. Don’t avoid difficult questions. Try to answer as many of the questions as possible. If you don’t have all the answers, it’s okay to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t have an answer for that question... I will try and get one for you.”

Let your child know that you are taking his/her concerns seriously.

If your child has a hard time talking about their feelings, let them know you are there when they are ready to share. Give them some time on their own. If they don’t bring the situation up within a day or two, introduce the subject again.

If your child is verbal, then find time each day to talk to them about how they are doing emotionally. Explore new feelings, fears or anxieties.

If your child changes frequency in the way he/she talks, plays or expresses attitudes, this may indicate fears or anxieties they are unable to express.

If your child likes to draw, let them make a picture that tells you how they are feeling or a picture that describes their worries or fears.

Your child might express his/her upsets through their behavior. You might find a major change in your child such as becoming aggressive, withdrawing, or having physical complaints that coincide with the trauma. You might also find a change in the frequency or way he/she talks plays or expresses attitudes that may indicate fears or anxieties that they are unable to express.