PUBLISHED: 4:49 PM on Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Helping children deal with traumatic situations
American Red Cross of Southeast Alaska
We have all experienced some sort of trauma in our lives, whether due to divorce, automobile accident or a death of someone we love, and as adults we have acquired the necessary tools to help us cope with trauma on a emotional level, but what about our children?

When trauma occurs in a child's life they often feel helpless and powerless in the face of the event.

Depending on the age of the child, they may become preoccupied with the details of the traumatic event. Children can also respond by feeling responsible and guilty for the event and it is important to emphasize that no one, least of all your child, could have prevented it.

In the case of a fire, earthquake or other major event, your child may feel intense fear and insecurity.

Allow your child to become more dependent on you for a time. Your child may require more close contact than usual, they may not want to sleep alone or require the light to stay on and they may return to a favorite teddy bear or blanket.

Communicate with your child. Allow your child to express their feelings and fears about the event.

Even if you think they are over exaggerated, remember that children, especially young ones, lack the emotional skills to deal with trauma the ways that adults can.

Children can often become confused about the facts and their feelings and may experience intense episodes of sadness or anger, as well they may become withdrawn and unable to talk about the event, and they may even have denial towards the event.

It is important to encourage your child to talk and to offer comfort and reassurance about the event as well as to help bring clarity to what they understand.

A child's view of their world is lost temporarily after a traumatic event.

What was once safe and predictable becomes damaged and uncontrolled to a child's eye and it is the parent who they look to in help of making sense out of what has happened.

You are your child's first responder in a traumatic event so it is important that you have the necessary skills to respond both emotionally and physically. The American Red Cross of Alaska encourages all parents to get trained in CPR and First Aid. We encourage all parents to attend free disaster training and to have family disaster plans and supplies ready in case of an emergency.

The American Red Cross of Alaska, Southeast district can assist you and your family in all training and preparedness.

Please call us at 463-5713 or stop by our offices at 3200 Hospital Dr # 203, Juneau. Together we can prepare and respond to emergencies.