PTSD and Parenting: Helping your children understand

PTSD and Parenting: Helping your children understand

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W. and Janelle Breese Biagioni
This tip card helps veterans, parents and professionals recognize and understand the symptoms of PTSD and how it affects the emotions of children in the family. It gives tips on how to support these children and help them understand and cope with changes in family dynamics and parental relationships
Item: PPTS
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Full Description

It is important to help children understand the symptoms of PTSD and the effects on their parentís behavior and emotions. When a parent with PTSD has emotional outbursts or explosive behaviors, children often emotionally react with feelings of fear, anger, or confusion. A child of any age may be upset witnessing PTSD symptoms. While you cannot always protect your child from seeing these episodes or behaviors, you can help your child understand what is happening. This tip card lists the most common symptoms of PTSD. It has tips to help children recognize and understand these symptoms. It also offers tips on how to recognize the symptoms of emotional distress in children and what you can do to help them overcome some of their fears and anxiety about their parentís situation.
Details
Item PPTS
Pages 8
Year 2011

Authors

Marilyn Lash, M.S.W.

She has over 35 years of experience working with persons with disabilities and their families in medical, rehabilitation, educational and vocational settings. Currently, she is President at Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, Inc. in Youngsville, NC. Author of many publications on the psychosocial impact of brain injury, her writing and training emphasize coping strategies for families and practical interventions by professionals and educators in hospitals, rehabilitation, schools and community programs.

Janelle Breese Biagioni

Janelle is an author, international speaker and a long-standing advocate for families and survivors of brain injury. Her book, A Change of Mind published by Lash and Associates Publishing/Training, chronicles the changes in her marriage when her husband, Gerry Breese, had a severe brain injury from a motorcycle crash while on duty as a Mounted Policeman in Canada. She knows first-hand the stress and challenges of trying to be a parent to two children while simultaneously being a wife and primary caregiver to a husband with significant cognitive, behavioral and emotional challenges following a traumatic brain injury.

Contents

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms

  • Reexperiencing
  • Avoidance and numbing
  • Hyperarousal
  • Tips to help children understand

Effects on Children

  • Tips on helping your children
  • Protection and overprotection
  • Reactions of children
  • Tips on helping your child when signs of emotional distress appear
  • Patterns of response

Children's Behavior and Social Skills

Conclusion

References

Excerpts

When a parent with PTSD has emotional outbursts or explosive behaviors, children often emotionally react with feelings of fear, anger, or confusion. A child of any age may be upset witnessing PTSD symptoms. While you cannot always protect your child from seeing these episodes or behaviors, you can help your child understand what is happening.

Tips on helping your children...

  • Comfort your children. Reassure them they are loved, needed, wanted and cherished.
  • Encourage healthy expressions of emotions such as anger; let them say they are mad at their parent for disrupting their lives. Tell them it's okay to cry.
  • Listen to your child carefully and with your full attention.

Seeing a parent overreact to a situation or suddenly ďfreak out over nothingĒ will upset children and they will react as well. The symptoms of PTSD can result in major and subtle changes in the relationship between a child and a parent. You may see some of the following symptoms in your child:

  • having trouble sleeping or nightmares
  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • worrying about the parent's safety
  • having trouble concentrating in school

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