HELPING YOUTH COPE WITH TRAUMA
Trauma and distress are emotional responses to extreme events. Research indicates approximately 67% of children and adolescents are experiencing trauma. Everyone responds to trauma differently and it is important to remember that what may be traumatic for a child or adolescent, may not be traumatic for an adult. Immediate responses can include, shock, denial, and overwhelming emotions that are difficult to manage. Delayed responses can include flashbacks, headaches, insomnia, nausea, nightmares, emotional outbursts, and strained relationships. Some children and adolescents may withdraw while others may act out.
Strategies to help children and adolescents cope with trauma include:
- Creating and maintaining a sense of safety and security;
- Monitoring exposure to news or social media that may contribute to traumatic feelings;
- Providing opportunities for children and adolescents to express their emotions and feelings verbally or through art, song, or writing;
- Validating the feelings expressed and providing reassurance and;
- Reinforcing love, care, and concern.
After a traumatic event, helping children and adolescents return to a routine can help provide stability. Simple tasks like exercising or physical activity together, eating a nutritious meal together, and regularity at bedtime can help children and adolescents cope with traumatic events.
Links to understanding how to help children and adolescents cope with trauma are below, but a good starting point may be to confer with your pediatrician.
NATIONAL CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS NETWORK
AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
UCLA YOUTH STRESS AND MOOD PROGRAM