Helping Young Trauma Survivors
Helping children begins at the scene of the event. It may need to continue for weeks or months. Most children recover within a few weeks. Some need help longer. Grief (a deep emotional response to loss) may take months to resolve. It could be for a loved one or a teacher. It could be for a friend or pet. Grief may be re-experienced or worsened by news reports or the event’s anniversary.
Some children may need help from a mental health professional. Some people may seek alternative kinds of help. They may turn to religious or community leaders.
Identify children who need the most support. Help them obtain it. Monitor their healing.
Identify Children Who:
- Refuse to go places that remind them of the event
- Seem numb emotionally
- Show little reaction to the event
- Behave dangerously
These children may need extra help.
In general adult helpers should:
- Attend to children
- Listen to them
- Accept/do not argue about their feelings
- Help them cope with the reality of their experiences
- Reduce effects of other sources of stress including:
- Frequent moving or changes in place of residence
- Long periods of time away from family and friends
- Pressures at school
- Transportation problems
- Fighting within the family
- Being hungry
- Monitor healing
- It takes time
- Do not ignore severe reactions
- Attend to sudden changes in behaviors, speech, language use, or in emotional/feeling states
- Remind children that adults
- Love them
- Support them
- Will be with them when possible