What can and cannot be done if the child has a psychological trauma

It is as if the person is again in a situation of trauma and reacts to it, and not to what is happening here and now. psychological trauma.

What can and cannot be done if the child has a psychological trauma
What can and cannot be done if the child has a psychological trauma

As the psychotherapist explains, this may be a reaction to so-called triggers, that is, reminders of a traumatic event. It is as if the person is again in a situation of trauma and reacts to it, and not to what is happening here and now. psychological trauma.

  • What is psychological trauma and what are the varieties;
  • How to understand that something has happened to a child;
  • What to do and what not to do;
  • What are the consequences of œworked out and œunworked psychological trauma.


According to, psychological trauma is divided into:

  1. Injuries with a capital letter "T", which can cause artical-traumatic reactions and artical-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These are situations that directly endanger the life or health of a person or people close to him. Situations are also considered traumatic when a person has witnessed deadly events or faced their consequences, in particular through their profession. For example, police officers who are forced to find dead bodies;
  2. Injuries from the small letter "t", such as a quarrel with friends, loss of a pet, divorce of parents. It is believed that they cannot cause artical-traumatic stress disorder precisely because they do not pose a threat to human life and health.

Thus, psychological trauma with a capital letter is a direct encounter with death or threat to life. In children, such injuries can often be associated with medical surgery. œTraumatic events affect the activity of the brain and the whole body. At the moment of any threat there are huge emissions of cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline. The peculiarity of psychological trauma with a capital letter is that any reminder of it, minimal irritation, again causes a reaction and the release of hormones. In addition, their level does not return to the original, the body seems to "bathe" in cortisol. Normal - if a dog barks at you, you are scared, but over time, hormone levels return to normal. This is not happening here,  Hormone levels do not return to normal in a child or adult who has experienced a traumatic event. And from this the whole nervous system is still in a state of heightened readiness to react to danger. The amygdala is one of the brain structures that first responds to danger. In fact, the reaction bypasses the prefrontal cortex and quickly orders to run, fight or freeze. In Trauma survivors, the amygdala acts as a hypersensitive alarm, like a smoke detector that responds even when there is not enough smoke. All because there are changes in the nervous system associated with high levels, such as cortisol, and the fact that any signals from the outside world (especially if they are reminiscent of an event that injured) trigger the child. A person reacts not to what irritates him, but to the same trauma, because it is as if he finds himself in it again.


How a teacher can understand that a child has experienced psychological trauma:

  • Increased reactivity, excitability, changes in behavior;
  • Often children, especially immediately after injury, are silent. This is due to the work of the brain. According to Victoria, studies show that the injury provokes changes in Brock's area. This zone is responsible for the embodiment of our images, feelings, thoughts in words.

You can hear the metaphor of the "silence of trauma." The point is that many traumatic things are not discussed. In fact, people don't have the neurobiological ability to talk about what happened. "

  • Children can also repeat a traumatic plot in games. For example, if an injury is caused by a car accident, they can play with toy cars, simulating accidents. If children have survived the bombing, there may be games on the subject.
  • Children may have dreams about an event that has traumatized them.
  • There may be memories of a traumatic event and even so-called flashbacks (memories of such intensity that a person seems to be in a trauma situation again).

œIf you notice such behavior, it is best to send the child to a specialist for an examination and help. In each case, everything is very individual. And a teacher, even if he has the best motivation to help a child, cannot always do so. And sometimes it can inadvertently harm, simply because he does not understand the neurobiology of injuries, the psychotherapist advises.

If the teacher knows or suspects that something has happened to the child:

  1. Situations that can trigger a child should be avoided, especially if he or she reacts violently to something specific that peers or teachers do or say;
  2. In the case of strong emotional reactions, if the child is upset or scared, it is better to take him to a quiet safe place where he can calm down;
  3. You should offer to talk, but only if she is ready to do so.

"Don't push and insist, 'Tell me what happened, it'll be easier for you.' Instead, you can say, "If you want to talk, I'm ready to listen to you." That is, it is necessary to create a situation where the child could open up, 

  1. The confidentiality of history must be guaranteed. The injury cannot be disclosed. If the child wants to know about it, she will tell. The risk is that adolescents are not very tolerant, they may intentionally or unintentionally hurt a child who has already been injured.
  2. You need to know to whom you can refer the child in the city, village or online, so that he could get the support and help of a specialist. œWe are talking about a specialist with the appropriate education and skills: a psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist. It would be nice if these were people not related to the school. Of course, a school psychologist, if he has the necessary competencies, can help. However, for example, if there has been rape, a person from the school system may be at risk for confidentiality. In this case, it is better to talk to someone who is not involved in the system of school relations. If the actions of peers or teachers (mostly unintentional) trigger the child, it is as if he is reliving the event that injured him. She may have a memory or a stronger re-experience (flashback). In the latter case, the child does not understand that he is here and now, and again gets injured - and defends himself.


Studies show that if the family has a great relationship, the risk of having PTSD is quite low, even if the person has experienced very difficult traumatic events. This is provided that the parents are emotionally stable and able to provide support.

"In this case, the family is doing what a psychotherapist would do. It gives the child the opportunity to discuss the situation of the injury and integrate it. Yes, another feature of the impact of traumatic events on the brain is that the hippocampus, the part where the memory of past events is stored, loses contact with the frontal cortex. This is why the connection between events is broken - the past seems to constantly "jump out" into the present, re-experienced and traumatized again.

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Actually, the task of a psychotherapist is to return the trauma to the past. It cannot be forgotten, but it can be returned to its place in time so that it does not interfere with the present. To do this, use different techniques.

œIf there is a good relationship in the family, there is safety, when the child can talk about the injury, then this therapy occurs naturally, without techniques. That is, if the parents listen to the child, do not say "forget about it" or "do not think about it." After all, it does not help. Instead, you have to say, "It's all in the past, I'm with you now, you're safe,"

Therefore, parents should be involved in the study of the injury. But sometimes they can be very traumatized, frightened. In such cases, the psychotherapist or psychiatrist should also work with the parents.


According to the guide to statistics and diagnosis of mental disorders, the following main diagnostic criteria for PTSD are identified:

  • Traumatic experience.
  • Recurrence of traumatic events: depressing memories or dreams associated with trauma, dissociative reactions in which a person feels or acts as if the traumatic events are happening again, strong emotional or physiological reactions when reminded of traumatic events.
  • Trying to avoid depressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about traumatic events.
  • Negative changes in thoughts and moods: inability to remember important aspects of traumatic events, persistent distorted thoughts about the causes and consequences of traumatic events, yourself, others or the world. There may be negative attitudes such as "I'm guilty", "If it weren't for me, it wouldn't be", "No one can be trusted", "Life is dangerous".
  • Significant decrease in interest or participation in significant activities and inability to experience positive emotions.
  • Feelings of alienation or alienation from others.
  • Excitability and reactivity (irritability, outbursts of anger, risky behavior, excessive alertness, sleep disturbances). In addition, children often have bodily reactions. There may be indigestion: diarrhea, constipation, vomiting.

œFor example, I worked with a boy who had to take medication every 2 weeks and before taking the pills, he felt sick. He vomited, his stomach hurt. Eventually, the problem was resolved psychotherapeutically.

This pill meant for the boy that he was very ill and had to take it. This is a stress response of the body. The boy knew that there were side effects from the pill, the brain "told" that he would be sick - and he felt bad before taking the pill.

Common somatic problems associated with trauma and stress are irritable bowel syndrome and overactive bladder syndrome. Both are treated psychotherapeutically.

œHowever, according to statistics, only about 30% of people who have survived injuries will have artical-traumatic symptoms. And about 30% of these 30% will develop PTSD, which will require professional help to overcome. The rest will recover on their own or with the support of relatives. In fact, they will achieve that the almond-shaped body will not be triggered when something resembles an injury.

There are two groups of factors that determine whether a person will overcome the injury himself:

  1. This is a person's internal resources, an opportunity to overcome stress. For example, people who, for example, have experienced childhood violence and rejection are more likely to develop PTSD. Their nervous system works in such a way that the injury is easy to "come in". In addition, they may already have high levels of cortisol, an increased response to stressors.
  2. Social support, safe social environment, people create an opportunity to speak, do not ask to forget, do not say: "Other people are worse", "Everyone experienced this".


œCurrently, one of the popular areas of research is the study of artical-traumatic growth. That is, the process in which a person not only recovered from an injury, but also acquired such worldview changes and skills that made him stronger, more mobile, formed a kind of confidence like "Whatever happens, I will survive, I will overcome everything, people who have been injured, recovered and grown are in a better position than those who have not been injured. Because in the situation of the next trauma they will know how to survive, how to recover, how to take care of themselves, how to ask for and receive help, to support others. They have strategies on how to live, survive and recover in difficult conditions.