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In recent news, there have been multiple reports of tragic school shootings or other violent incidents; not only the children in the affected school had the horrific experience, but children all around the country.

Naturally, children may exhibit different behaviors during the time of grief, but how can you tell when your child is suffering from trauma and is in need of service from a mental health specialist?

WHEN TRAUMATIC EVENTS OCCURRED

According to American Psychological Association (APA), after the exposure to a traumatic event, children will exhibit some behavior changes reacting to the short-term distress; These changes, however, are universal in which mental health professionals see on a daily basis with disregard to the school shooting. Changes may include:

  • the development of new fears

  • separation anxiety (particularly in young children)

  • sleep disturbance, nightmares

  • sadness

  • loss of interest in normal activities

  • reduced concentration

  • decline in schoolwork

  • anger

  • somatic complaints

  • irritability

SIGNS OF TRAUMA

The reactions listed above should last for a short period of time. If the behaviors reoccurred over time and begin to effect your child's level of functioning, see mental health professionals for trauma screening. Here are some signs of trauma in children:

  • Increased thinking about death and safety

  • Problems with sleeping, eating, anger and attention

  • Triggers- Express dramatic reactions toward events or things that may seem normal to others because it reminds the child of that particular traumatic memory

GRIEF VS TRAUMA

Credit: Starr (https://www.starr.org/research/grief-vs-trauma)

Credit: Starr (https://www.starr.org/research/grief-vs-trauma)

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Listed below are some ways we, as adults, can assist our children in the process of recovery:

  • ensuring the child feels safe

  • assisting the child to regain trust in people and outside world

  • re-establish and maintain the child's familiar environments, activities, and routines

  • helping the child understand what happened and why; by giving facts suited to their age

  • allowing the child to play and talk about their experience

  • reassuring the child their reactions are normal in these circumstances and will get better