2005 Jordan Institute
10, No. 3
Responding to a Child's Acute PTSD Reaction
Following is advice for child welfare workers and birth, foster, and adoptive parents.
- If you can, find out ahead of time what upsets a child and how to calm the child down.
- Use calm words and, when appropriate, gentle touch; reassure the child that he or she is safe.
- Remind the child that you are there to take care of him and keep him safe.
- Remind the child (and yourself) that these difficult episodes will pass, and, in time should become less frequent and less severe.
- Don’t shame the child for “babyish” behavior that is young for his or her age.
- If certain things trigger a PTSD reaction (e.g., dark rooms, closed doors, TV violence) identify these things so that you can help the child anticpate these in the future and learn to cope with them.
- Respect the child’s wishes about whether to talk about the trauma.
Sources: MBHP, 2003; McNally et al., 2003.
References for this and other articles in this issue