02-20-2020 01:02 PM - last edited on 02-20-2020 01:05 PM by Jess1-RO
Ask a Child and Family Professional
Question: How can I support my daughter after she has experienced a traumatic event?
There is much a parent can do to support their teen through trauma. Reactions to trauma can often be misunderstood as difficult, disobedient or rude behaviour. As a parent it is normal to find this frustrating, but expressing anger over this behaviour might make things worse. Consider the following strategies.
Your coping style and mental wellbeing can have a significant influence on your teen’s
recovery. Hence it is important you, the parent, look after yourself first and seek support if you are not coping.
Reassure your teen that they are safe and cared for. Experiencing a traumatic event can affect ones sense of safety and emotional wellbeing.
When your teen is ready, listen and talk to them about the trauma. As mentioned it is normal to experience strong emotional and/or physical reactions following trauma. Fear, sadness, guilt and anger are common. As is withdrawal or clinginess.
Validate your teen’s feelings and normalise their reactions, even if you don’t understand or agree with them. When a teen can express their feelings and have them validated it can help them to feel heard, not judged and open up.
Maintain routine where possible, however… Be flexible. Negotiate changes in roles and responsibility during their recovery. Don’t expect your teens to take on too much responsibility, but don’t become overprotective either.
Try to understand if they can’t do what is usually expected of them, like going to school, but talk about how they will get back to their normal routine as soon as possible. If school performance/attendance is impacted - tell school staff, including teachers and the principal so they are aware of what has happened.
Make time for fun family activities. Encourage your teenager take care of themselves, such as eating well, getting enough sleep, maintaining regular exercise, engaging in relaxation or mindfulness practices.
If your teen is finding it difficult to open up to you it might be helpful to ask a relative or
trusted family friend. It is normal at this stage of development for teens to not want to share all with parents. If you continue to feel worried about your teen and/or things are not improving this
might be a good time to seek professional support.
Here are some of the support options available:
You can also check out the "urgent help" page here
JM, Child and Family Professional at The Benevolent Society
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We also partner with The Benevolent Society to offer free personalised one-on-one support for parents and carers of teens over the phone and online.
For more information: https://parents.au.reachout.com/one-on-one-support