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Helping Children Cope With Trauma

Helping children cope with trauma.

As founder of the Fathers’ Forum I thought I would provide resources for helping with the recent events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Ever child and family is different. Everyone has their own inborn way of coping and integrating disturbing and tragic events. The age and understanding of every child and adult is unique.  Understand that if you are concerned about your own reaction or child’s reaction or anyone in your family, please reach out to the community mental health resources in your community to get help.

Aetna Behavioral Health Employee Assistance Program professionals are available now, regardless of whether a person is an Aetna member. Counselors answering phones have experience helping people through traumatic events. Individuals are welcome to contact their counselors for help, support or referrals for further assistance.  The number to call is (1-888-238-6232). The Aetna EAP line is available now and will stay open through January 14, 2013.  There is no charge for this service.

What is trauma:

Trauma is defined as “an experience outside the range of everyday human experience that creates higher and longer-than-normal stress responses in children when they personally experience, or witness someone else experience, actual or threatened death or injury or threat to themselves or another person.” As a result, they experience horror or terror. Traumatic occurrences cause individuals to feel trapped and helpless.

Traumatic experiences create physical changes in the brain and body. Trauma is different from normal fear due to the higher than normal stress that is experienced within the body. It is important to note that a trauma is “outside” the normal fears, disappointments and upsets that we may encounter. What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School is profoundly disturbing. It has created a feeling of fear and helplessness for so many people. It is a completely unbelievable event that so many young and innocent children could be killed.

How we as adults and parents try and make sense of such a tragedy is important in helping our children. Here are a couple of resources I found at Aetna that you may find helpful.

Helping children cope with school violence.

Recovering from trauma and loss.

Here are resources for helping you help your children and families with the events at Sandy Hook.

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting
From the American Psychological Association

Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Violence and Disasters: What Parents Can Do/How Parents Can Help
From the National Institute of Mental Health

Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Children and the News
From American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Tips for Talking to Children about the Aurora Shooting
From American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Coping With Unexpected Events: Depression and Trauma
SEE SECTION:  Helping and Talking with Children
From the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)