Aditi* (name changed), a 27-year-old marketing professional, cannot drive. Every time she gets behind the wheel, flashes of her childhood leave her so shaken that she becomes hysterical and gives up. A major road accident claimed the life of her father when she was just eight. She was also in the car at the time of the accident. She is a victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
While we assume that children have the ‘age advantage’ and easily get over sad memories – “he/she won’t remember this as an adult” — several studies have proven that childhood trauma is “as real as it gets”.
Childhood traumatic stress occurs when children and adolescents are exposed to distressing events or situations that overwhelm them so much that it affects their ability to cope. Often, events such as intentional violence (physical/verbal/sexual abuse), natural disasters, accidents, war, or the sudden loss of a parent/caregiver trigger childhood traumatic stress.
Further, a child does not have to be directly impacted for an event to haunt them, watching a parent or friend suffer might be extremely traumatic as well.
The biggest hurdle in helping a child suffering from PTSD is to identify the signs. Children are often unable to articulate their distress, even masking their pain with aggressive behaviour or tantrums. Here are some tell-tale signs:
- Poor social skills: They have problems making friends and maintaining relationships, even with teachers.
- Behavioural issues: This can range from extreme anger issues and throwing tantrums to being completely silent and dejected all the time.
- Trouble falling asleep: Their anxiety ensures that they have problems in sleeping or having nightmares.
- Poor self-esteem: Due to the feeling of isolation, they lack confidence and develop irritability.
- Resistant to change: They have a fear of the unknown and hence they stick to their routine life. Any alteration in that deeply affects them.
How you can help
Today, as children get more and more exposure to the world at large – thanks to technology – it is truly becoming a slippery slope. Kids are being subjected to all sorts of violence shown on TV and dangerous viral social media phenomenon such as ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ (A game that assigned a series of tasks to the players over a 50-day period. Initially innocuous, the tasks eventually start introducing elements of self-harm, the final challenge requiring the player to commit suicide).
At times like this, the support of a loved one is the key to helping a child recover. If your child has suffered from any traumatic experience, and you notice any changes in their behaviour, don’t ignore it as a phase. Here are some action items:
- Talk to your paediatrician: They can check your child’s overall health and, if necessary, make a reference for mental health treatment.
- Talk it out: Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and help them validate their emotions. Reassure them that you will do everything you can to keep them safe.
- Be honest: If they have any deep and uncomfortable questions, do not skirt over the issue. Answer their questions honestly.
- Stick to your daily routine: The more normal things at home are, the easier it will be for children to move on.
- Try our SleepTalk or NLP/Hypnotherapy programme: Did you know that the best time to shape your child’s subconscious mind is when they are asleep? With our SleepTalk programme, you will be able to help your child move on over stressful and sad memories while they are in a light sleep. We will train you on the do’s and don’ts and you will notice visible changes in their behaviour. Using SleepTalk therapy can also prove to be bliss in shaping their thoughts towards positivity and getting rid of trauma.
These techniques empower children to achieve their full potential without letting stress affect them. It’s time to say goodbye to childhood trauma!