Keeping it Real
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not isolated to the individual who is experiencing it, his or her family feels the affects too.
According to a Psychology Today article, psychologists say that children react to the effects that the disorder has on their parents. When they see their parents suffering, they may be sad or not understand what is going on or they may actually develop discipline problems.
Children have big hearts and when they see or feel that someone is hurting, they often feel the same way. What they may not understand is why mom or dad is hurting, so it is best to be open with them. Educate them on what you’re going through but don’t be too descriptive with the details of the specific event.
Listen to their fears and don’t underestimate their thoughts. Let them know that it’s okay to feel those things, but that they are protected. Let them know that while you experienced a stressful event, you are working through it. Try to compare it to something they have experienced that felt stressful to them.
Don’t shut down around the child, no matter how hard that might be when you’re dealing with a traumatic event. If you try to be yourself the best you can and when you’re having a bad day, be open with the child and let them know so they don’t think they did something wrong, it will help them process what is going on.
Kids tend to take the blame for many things that are out of their control. They may feel like they caused you to be in the situation and that it’s their fault it happened. Reassure them it is not their fault and help them understand to the best of their ability that what you have experienced has nothing to do with them.