Children with a parent battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are often adversely affected by the strain, Military Times discusses.
Common signs that a child is struggling with their parent’s PTSD are uncharacteristic sadness and anger, excessive worry, confusion, and acting out.
Below are some tips on how to best help your child while you also seek treatment to help yourself.
- Be present, watch, and listen. Children express themselves differently than adults because they do not yet have the vocabulary or verbal skills to adequately articulate how they feel. Since your child likely cannot tell you how they feel, you need to be present enough to notice what they show you. A common manifestation of depression is withdrawal from family and friends, while a common manifestation of anger is aggressiveness, argumentative behavior, and disobedience.
- Teach your child about PTSD. The unknown is far scarier than reality. Empower your child by openly discussing the realities of PTSD and explaining what you are dealing with in language they can understand.
- Reassure them that it’s not their fault. Since children often internalize the struggles of the people surrounding them, make sure you express that your PTSD is not their fault.
- Don’t scare them with too many details. While communication, openness, and honesty are crucial in this situation, be careful not to provide your child with more information than necessary. The details of the events behind your PTSD are more likely to scare your child than anything else. This is especially true for younger children.