6 Tips to help your children cope with trauma

The media is full of stories that can cause your child to become anxious, stressed or fearful.  Shootings, school violence, and natural disasters are all events that may trigger trauma.

AUR-0545Events such as this can cause post-traumatic stress reactions, which can range from mild to severe. Reaction to trauma can overwhelm a child’s ability to cope.

Munther Barakat, PsyD is a psychologist in the Child & Adolescent Day treatment program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Here are his suggestions for minimizing the impact of post-traumatic stress reactions.

    • Early intervention in childhood psychic trauma is important. Families that offer support, understanding, and a sense of safety as close to the time of the traumatic event as possible can effectively limit the effects of trauma on a child.
    • Try to keep normal routines. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine.
    • It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears.
    • Talk about the events with your child to the level your child is developmentally able to handle. It is unlikely they have not heard about the event from peers, social media or news and television. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening. PBS Parents offers help on how to talk with children about news events.
    • Assure children that they are safe and so are their schools.

Munther Barakat is a doctor of psychology at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa.

  • Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety. It may also a good idea to consult a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation and treatment if behaviors are severe.

If your child, or a child you know has experienced trauma, contact us at 1-877-666-7223 or visit the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital website.

For more information on trauma, visit these resources:

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Is back-to-school a season of anxiety for your child?

Is your child excited about starting back in the classroom? Or is your child scared, anxious or reluctant to attend school?

A new school year, unfamiliar classroom, new teachers, and new classmates can be sources of anxiety for children and parents. What level of anxiety is “normal”? Is anxiety disrupting routine activities for your child? Being fearful of getting on the school bus can be a sign of extreme anxiety. So can refusing to go out to recess, or participate in class activities.

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America reports that anxiety disorders affect one in eight children. Research shows that untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse.

If you feel your child is experiencing extreme anxiety, find out how Aurora’s Child and Adolescent Day Treatment program can help.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.