Savvy Tips & Helpful Hints

6 Ways Parents Can Help a Traumatized Teenager

After an extremely stressful and traumatic experience, a teenager may not be able to bounce straight back to their normal selves. After disturbing experiences, especially, when they have felt that their safety or even their life has been threatened, the trauma can continue for days, weeks or even months after the event took place. Some teenagers can also experience symptoms of trauma after an emotionally distressing event, such as the divorce of their parents, being separated from a parent, feeling unsafe or some form of childhood abuse. Here are six ways that a parent can help their teenage son or daughter to recover from a traumatic event.

1)Recognize the signs as early as possible

Each person will react in different ways when traumatized as the body does not always respond in the same way. Usually, the symptoms of shock and trauma will subside after days or weeks, but sometimes they may be more severe. There are some common symptoms that may suggest your teenager is suffering from trauma.

*They may find it difficult to concentrate on tasks or struggle with their short term memory. This may impact their academic performance.

*They may be in denial about the event, refusing to acknowledge or discuss it.

*They may have extreme mood swings and become irrationally irritable or agitated.

*They may express feelings of shame, guilt, or hopelessness.

*They may isolate themselves from friends and family and avoid social interaction.

*They may be experiencing physical pains, aches, or muscle tension.

*They may find it difficult to sleep and/or be experiencing nightmares.

*They may be suffering from fatigue.

2)Encourage them to be social

Traumatized people can often try to isolate themselves and withdraw from friends and family. This can lead to worsening of symptoms, depression, or even thoughts of suicide in extreme circumstances. If possible, you should encourage them to socialize with their friends, take part in after-school activities, or volunteer with a local group or charity. You could even do the activity with them to give them support in the early stages. This may also give them more opportunities to talk to you about their feelings about their experience.

3)Try to get them moving

Physical exercise can help people during recovery from trauma as it releases endorphins and adrenaline, boosts energy levels, and can improve self-confidence, in addition to the general health benefits being active brings. Try to encourage your teenager to exercise regularly, possibly by doing it with them or helping them to find a class or sport which they will enjoy.

4)Encourage them to stay healthy

In addition to getting regular exercise, it’s essential that your son or daughter eats a nutritious and balanced diet, drinks plenty of water, and gets at least 8 hours of sleep. It’s also crucial that they do not use drugs or alcohol as coping strategies as this is likely to worsen symptoms and could lead to substance abuse issues.

5)Seek professional advice

If you are concerned that your teenager is not recovering from their trauma, you may need to seek advice and treatment from mental health professionals. There are a variety of therapies, medications, and other treatments, such as somatic experiencing, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). For more information on professional trauma treatment for teenagers, visit

6)Be there for them

Recovery from trauma can a long time, so it’s important that you are patient and supportive for as long as it takes. Weeks and months may go by before there is any noticeable improvement in their condition. There are likely to be setbacks and challenges, but that’s why it’s so essential to make the most of any progress.

One Comment

  • Susan Smith

    Sometimes it can be difficult to get teen to talk to a parent. My niece was more comfortable taking to a counselor about what she went through.

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