Advice and support for parents

Advice and Support for Parents

Supporting a child who has experienced a traumatic event can be stressful for parents/carers. Friends and relatives can be very helpful to adults and children at such times.

The support given, both at home and at school, will generally help to ensure that the reactions to the events are temporary. Although the event will never be forgotten, most children will recover without serious long term effects, with up to four weeks. However, if you continue to have concerns about your child’s reactions, you may wish to consider further support.

Normal reactions to a traumatic event

Following any distressing event it is quite normal to experience a range of reactions. Each person will respond in her/his own way. Your child may show some of the following:

  • Not being able to concentrate or want to do school work or make decisions
  • Sudden flashbacks which can be caused by related sights, sounds or smells
  • Avoiding places, people or objects which remind them of the incident
  • Feeling insecure and unsafe
  • Physical effects such as feeling unwell, headaches, listlessness or over activity
  • Sleep disturbance, nightmares, bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, irritability etc.
  • Difficulty in accepting the events or how they have been affected by them e.g. appearing over brave
  • Changes in personality e.g. feeling depressed or isolated, becoming irritable or angry
  • Needing to go over and over the incident which can test the patience of those closest
  • Seeing or hearing the person who has died.
  • Worries that the same event might happen again or happen to them
  • A sense of guilt — ’If only I had…’

How to help your child

  • Listen to and try to understand your child’s view of the event
  • Give attention, reassurance and physical contact
  • Allow your child to talk about the experience and express his/her feelings
  • Check your child’s understanding of the event Answer your child’s questions as truthfully as possible
  • Respect privacy—do not force your child to talk if they do not want to
  • Maintain daily routines at home and at school
  • Encourage healthy eating, exercise and rest
  • Comforting bed-time routines may be particularly helpful
  • Encourage resumption of social activities e.g. Clubs
  • Let your child know that their feelings are normal and whilst the incident may always be an unpleasant memory they will feel better in time
  • Think of some of the positive things that have happened e.g. being brave, being helpful

People who may be able to help

  • Your GP
  • Your local religious community
  • Your child’s teacher
  • The school nurse
  • Voluntary counselling agencies
  • The school psychologist

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