Here are more ways of helping your kids deal with trauma and stress. (If you haven’t read the part 1 of this blog, it is highly suggested that you do it first before indulging in this write-up.)
Encourage Your Child To Exercise
According to Matthew Tull, PhD, “Whether or not you have PTSD, regular exercise has a number of benefits.” Exercise can help by releasing endorphins which improve their mood. Encourage them to play sports such as basketball, football, or volleyball. If they are reluctant to engage in sports, offer to take part in sports activities or offer to play a game with them. Induce them to go out and play with their friends or with a pet. Your family could go out and have a picnic or go swimming at a beach.
Encourage Your Child To Eat Healthy Foods
What your child eats has a significant effect on their mood and how they deal with their traumatic experience. “As you begin to take steps to nourish the body, you will be better able to deal with therapy for trauma and the symptoms associated with trauma,” as stated by Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, MPH, Eating Disorder Specialist. The wrong kind of food can cause mood swings and increase the stress they suffer while the right type of food can help your child better deal with traumatic stress. Children should avoid fried food, processed food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks and drinks. What they should eat more are fresh fruits and vegetables, good-quality protein, and the right kind of fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. Lead them by example. You should show your children that you are also eating healthy food. Feed your children more home-cooked meals rather than eating out or ordering food deliveries from fast-food restaurants. And having a meal together is a good time for your family to talk and communicate with one another.
Promoting Feelings Of Safety And Security For Your Child
Experiencing a traumatic event may change a child’s view of the world. They may suddenly see the world as a more unsafe and horrifying place. Providing your child with stability can help alleviate this. Stability can be gained by having regular schedules for mealtimes, homework, and other family activities. Discuss with your child the future and your plans so that the future will not seem unknown and frightening to them. Do not lie or make false promises so that your child will learn to trust again. Try to eliminate other sources of stress at home. You should be relaxed and stress-free.
Seeking Professional Help For Your Child
Most of the time, a child copes with traumatic stress in a relatively short time with the help of their parents. Unfortunately, there are cases where the trauma is so significant that the stress reaction is overwhelming and relentless. In these cases, it is advisable to consult a mental health professional such as a trauma specialist.
“Child counselors are mental health specialists, who offer invaluable insight into your child’s social and emotional development and mental health,” – Dr. Ree Y. Langham, Ph.D.
You should consult a mental health professional if your child is still suffering from stress even if six weeks have passed since the event. Another warning sign is if your child is having nightmares or is complaining of physical pain such as headaches. Still, another sign is if your child has a hard time socializing or communicating with family and friends or is not doing well at school.
If your child has suicidal thoughts or talks about suicide, you should immediately seek professional help. The IASP website will provide a suicide helpline near you.