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 igniteteentreatment.com.
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.