How to Help When a Child You Love Suffers Trauma

Early trauma can leave a lasting impact on a child’s brain.  The younger a child is, the more vulnerable their brain may be to the impact of trauma.  Childhood trauma can include any negative experience that causes major stress.

Having healthy relationships with caring adults can help children who have experienced early trauma.  When children feel unsafe, they spend more time in the “survival” part of their brain as opposed to the “thriving” part of their brain where they are bonding with caregivers, learning to talk, etc.  Early trauma can interfere with learning and may lead to other health problems in the future.

You can help a child who has suffered childhood trauma in the following ways:

  • Facilitate opportunities for children to talk about what happened.
  •  Help children play out their feelings.
  •  Allow the child to talk and tell their story without pressure.
  • Children need to hear it’s not their fault.  Acknowledge their feelings and give reassurance that whatever occurred was not their fault.
  • Ask your child what they are most worried about now.
  • Help your child find alternate ways to express their feelings such as drawing, playing music or journaling
  • Reduce exposure to violent media.
  • Keep a consistent routine in place, so your child knows what to expect (meals, homework, bedtime), and prepare your child for changes in routine.

  Click here to read about more ways to handle trauma with children.

Works Cited: The Amazing Brain:  Trauma and the Potential for Healing, Linda Burgess Chamberlain, PhD, MPH