Trauma affects the whole family

By Submitted

September 13, 2016 12:00 AM

People begin the Walk of Remembrance Satuday from the picnic area of Bud Miller Park. PAUL FORGES LLS PHOTO

When we as adults experience trauma in our lives, the emotional effects of that trauma also effects the children in the family, even when we feel that they aren’t part of the trauma experience.
How do we support, care for and seek to understand our children, our most precious gifts?
Research has proven trauma affects the brain and in growing children that has a huge effect.
How do we take care of vulnerable children mentally and emotionally when they experience trauma or when our trauma spills over to them?
Often comments are heard they really don’t understand, they are too young.
When there are behaviour issues, we often look at so many things to blame or feel overwhelmed and don’t know what’s wrong with them or what to do.
Children experience losses and trauma from infancy on, but without a language to describe their emotions often it comes out in their attitude and behaviors, (stubborn, angry, tantrums, etc.)
Sometimes we don’t know what to do when we are emotionally distraught, too.
If we can take some time to seek to understand what children are experiencing, there will be less yelling, frustration and anger and more understanding.
Children grieve just as adults do and following is a few ideas about your younger child’s development.
Up to two years—
children don’t have a concept of death, but notice change in routine and families emotions.
Miss loved one (sight, smell, etc), fear of abandonment , anxiety.
Behaviours include: crying, rocking, throwing, sucking, biting, sleeplessness.
You can help by reassurance, maintain routine as much as possible, meet physical needs and include them in the mourning process as much as possible, but be gentle and kind.
Three to five years
do not understand that death is permanent ... and has concerns if other significant adults in their life dies, what will happen to them.
They will experience fear, sadness, anger, worry, guilt and confusion, insecurity and agitation.
Behaviours may include regressive behaviour, intense dreams, physical complaints, fighting and crying and may play out death, feelings and change or act as if the death never happened.
Help them by allowing regression, physical contact that comforts, give truthful answers at a level that they understand, let child talk about death and feelings and you listen, welcome their tears, maintain routine and include them in family rituals.
Oct. 4 is the beginning of the Hope After Loss­—Audra’s Legacy children grief support groups for ages 6-11 and 12-18.
The program is offered in Vermilion and Lloydminster.
Registration deadline is Sept. 15.
For more information or to register contact Shirley at
Look on Facebook or our Web ( and more information in local papers.
May the beginning of fall be a time of learning for that is power in our lives and the beginning of healing.
—Shirley L. Scott at Walking Through Grief Society

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