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What To Do For Your Child Who Has Been Repeatedly Traumatized.

by Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.

Copyrighted 1997-2021

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What To Do For Your Child Who Has Been Repeatedly Traumatized.

by Daniel T. Moore.

Copyrighted 1997-2021

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What To Do For Your Child Who Has Been Repeatedly Traumatized.

by Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.

Copyrighted 1997-2021

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Repeated trauma (e.g., sexual abuse, domestic violence, severe neglect) is difficult for both parents and children. Some children are better at coping with severe trauma than other children. Everyone has their own unique way of responding and recovering from traumatic experiences. As a parent, the main goal is to allow your child to start the recovery process as soon as possible.

The first step in helping your child, is for you to take care of yourself. As you become more healthy, you will be better able to help your child. If you are in an abusive relationship, get out. It is easier than most people think if you go to a battered women's shelter. DO NOT DELAY! Let other people help you and your family get well. If you live with an alcoholic or an addict, get your family help. If you have emotional problems, first start working on these problems and then begin to help your child.

The next step is to insure that your home environment is as stress free as possible. This is often difficult because of the "acting out" behaviors of the children. However, every effort must be done to provide a stable, secure, structured, and nurturing home environment for your children. Children can overcome most any type of abuse with therapy, time and a stable, structured, and nurturing environment. Even severely physically abused children will raise their IQ scores and overcome their behavioral problems if provided this type of environment.

While you are taking care of yourself and providing an optimum environment for growth and development, here are some additional guidelines to help your child:

  • Talk to your child. Allow them to feel whatever emotion they have. You just need to listen. Do not make the common mistake by telling the child he/she should not feel that way. After you have listened, you can share some of your feelings too.


  • When a child is "acting out" and displaying anger or aggression (as most siblings often do), have them talk about their past traumatic experiences. Often just talking about the trauma and expressing their feelings will curb their aggressive behaviors for a day or so. After a time, if they resume fighting, have them talk about their past traumatic experiences again.


  • Reassure your children often that you are safe and together. Make sure you do not make promises that you will not keep. Make honest reassurances.


  • Touch and hug your child often. Allow a physical and emotional bond to develop through appropriate expressions of love. This will strengthen your child's sense of security.


  • Avoid sleeping with your children. You can remain in your children's bedroom until they fall asleep. Parents who regularly allow their children to sleep with them following traumatic experiences usually prolong the recovery and may cause an anxiety disorder.


  • Spend time together in family activities. This will help the child begin replacing fears with pleasant memories.


  • Work with the school and inform teachers what has happened. By doing this, the teacher may not be as punitive if your child has difficulty concentrating at school or shows signs of anger or depression.


  • Remember to take the role of a survivor. Teach your children the difference between a survivor and a victim. Survivors become stronger because of the traumatic experiences while victims remain weak. Learn to overcome pessimistic thinking, self defeating behaviors, and self doubts.


There are many resources that are available to help you and your child. Seek them out. Some churches have good programs, and community mental health services provide cost effective treatments that help the entire family recover from traumatic experiences. If we can be further of assistance to you, please use the resources at Your Family Clinic on the internet. Additional comments or questions can be reached to us by E-mail.

The top photograph was by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash. We are grateful.



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