1

How to Help Kids Who Have Experienced a Traumatic Event

Help Kids After a Disaster

Help Kids After a Disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children who have experienced a natural disaster or another traumatic event need to have a sense of routine and normalcy. Re-establishing a sense of normalcy as soon as possible helps minimize the effects of the traumatic event.

Emotions run deep during traumatic events. Feelings of vulnerability or fear for one’s safety can heighten anxiety and increase stress. This emotional state can severely impact a child’s social, emotional, and behavioral development.

When emotions are heightened they overrun the neocortex, the part of our brain that processes rational thought.  In order to lower heightened emotions, we must shift the focus from feelings to the facts of the current situation.

The following tables show how to re-frame traumatic events so that the child can process the facts behind the events rather than becoming overwhelmed by their emotional reaction.

Provide the Facts

Who

Who was involved? How many people were impacted?

What

What happened? Use facts. Avoid adding emotion or bias.

Where

Geographical location

When

Date &Time/Time Span or Duration

Allow Children to Tell Their Story

Who

How the child was impacted. How people the child knows was impacted.

What

What did the child experience? Have the child use concrete/specific facts. Using a step-by-step approach will help children retell their story. First, next, then, etc.

Where

Where they were when the event occurred.

When

When were they aware of the event? Did they know about it before it was going to happen, during the event, or afterwards?

 

Focus on the Present

Who

How the child was impacted. How people the child knows was impacted.

What

What did the child experience? Have the child use concrete/specific facts. Using a step-by-step approach will help children retell their story. First, next, then, etc.

Where

Where they were when the event occurred.

When

When were they aware of the event? Did they know about it before it was going to happen, during the event, or afterwards?

Plan for the Future

Who

Identify adults that will help the child move forward with their lives and trusted adults that the child feels comfortable asking for help.

What

Establish short-term and long-term goals for the future.

Where

Resources/activities are available in their community.

When

Create a realistic time line to achieve goals.

 

References:

Effects of Traumatic Events on Children

Effects of Psychological Trauma on Children and Adolescents

The Effects of Trauma on Schools and Learning

A great book to help heal:

How do you have children who have experienced trauma? What have you found to be helpful?