Responding to Trauma

Ways to help our children during a traumatic event

Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Ike, can leave us all in a state of confusion and anxiety. Exposure to such events can cause feelings of hurt, fear, anger, sadness and guilt. Reactions such as these are normal in the wake of a traumatic experience and will typically dissipate with time. Most children will be able to cope over time with the love and support of family members, friends and care givers. Some individuals may experience more long-term reactions that may require additional intervention and assistance. Below you will find some information to better help your child through this experience.

Common behaviors observed in children after a trauma:

  • Sleep disturbances (nightmares, talking in sleep, crying out, etc…)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fear of things associated with the trauma
  • Acting younger (age regression)
  • Change in eating habits
  • Irritability
  • Clinginess
  • Aggressiveness

10 Ways for Parents and Caregivers to Help Children:

  1. Take care of yourself.
  2. Find something positive in how the child is dealing with the hurricane.
  3. Encourage the child to talk, write or draw about their feelings.
  4. Ask the child what he/she needs.
  5. Be aware of common reactions to trauma.
  6. Be prepared to deal with physical symptoms like stomachaches and headaches.
  7. Children like routines.
  8. Limit the child’s exposure to news about the hurricane.
  9. Provide the child with plenty of time to play.
  10. Help create a sense of safety.

Resource: MercyCorps. The Hurricane Aftermath: 10 Ways for Parents and Caregivers to Help Children. Portland, Oregon.

Other helpful resources: (Child Trauma Institute) (Texas Extension Disaster Education Network)


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