When brains experience trauma, they struggle to cope with it.

It’s normal- and part of the healing process- to have flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts immediately following a traumatic experience. Knowing this and normalizing this matters! Recent research found that kids who believed their response to trauma was bad, wrong, or a sign something was wrong with them were more likely to develop chronic symptoms (PTSD) than kids who didn’t view their trauma response as a bad thing.

Study by Meiser-Stedman & team, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 03/2019

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This doodle fleshes out that research article a bit more: I think the most interesting takeaway is this:  kids who spent a lot of time and brain-space trying to process their experience had a higher risk for PTSD. While this could be a chicken vs egg scenario (i.e. are naturally thoughtful kids are higher risk for PTSD?) my takeaway from this research is the following:

1. This research indicates that we shouldn’t pressure kids to talk about their trauma in a grown-up way (kids and some tweens are going to work it out through their play, so we can support unscripted play to be a supportive presence)

2. We can support kids through trauma recovery by normalizing their responses. One of the best ways? The phrase: “of course you feel ____”.

 

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