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These are questions to ask children that are directly or indirectly involved in trauma to determine their awareness, knowledge, needs and misconceptions.  These questions are helpful whether the child was closely or distantly involved in the trauma.

  • Where were you at the time of the disaster/attack/bombing?
  • What happened where you were?
  • How did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What were your thoughts and feelings, then and now?
  • What did you do to help yourself – then and now?
  • What did others do to help you – then and now?

Dealing with Children’s Reactions

What can help a child to deal with injury, loss and distress around trauma?

  • Reassure that the event is over and they are “safe”.
  • Repeat that you are “helping people”.
  • Tell the child what you are doing.
  • Warn them of painful procedures and that they (children) are “good”.
  • Explain the expected procedures and who people are.
  • Answer questions about the child reassuringly but honestly.
  • Do not initially allow the child to hear others’ stories of accidents.
  • Avoid telling the child about serious trauma of a friend or family member, unless the child seems capable to hear.

Trauma Intervention

At the time of the trauma what can help immediately?

  • Protect children from excitement such as onlookers.
  • Reunite children with parents immediately for comfort.
  • Coordinate with other caregivers.
  • Support parents in dealing with events.

Pain and Fear Management

What type of interventions are helpful to calm a child when a therapist or professional is involved?

  • Distraction
  • Guided imagery
  • Suggestion
  • Thought stopping
  • Self-instruction
  • Relaxation

Trauma Factors from the Hurricane Hugo Disaster

Factors to use in assessing potential risk of psychological problems:

  • Prior anxiety level
  • Damage to the child’s home
  • Location of the child during the trauma
  • Perceived severity of the trauma
  • Parental job loss
  • Age, sex and race of the child

Long Term Negative Reactions

Support and treatment can reduce these consequences:

  • Repeated memories
  • Repetitive behavioral reenactments
  • Trauma specific fears
  • Changed attitudes about people, life and the future.

Summary of Trauma Response and Intervention

  • Listen to the child
  • Reassure repeatedly
  • Treat all fears as genuine
  • Keep all promises
  • Reunite with parent
  • Encourage talking
  • Give choices
  • Use humor cautiously
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