Talking to TCKs about Trauma
This Blog is a Companion to the Blog “Recognizing the Posttraumatic Stress Pattern.”
Maybe you’ve learned about how trauma impacts kids, but wonder how to turn that knowledge into a conversation that can help you assess how a certain kid in your care is doing now following a traumatic experience.
Here are some questions to help you open up a conversation as you’re looking for the Posttraumatic Stress Pattern.
Conversation Starter Questions
– How do you feel about talking about [what happened]?
– Would you like to tell me about [it]?
– Is there anybody, or a time or place that we could set up that would help you feel comfortable talking about it?
– (If they don’t want to say what happened) Sometimes telling the story is too hard, but can we talk about how you’re doing now?
– If you don’t want to talk all about it, that’s ok. It’s up to you. Would you be willing though to tell me the category of the kind of thing that happened so I can be on the right track when I’m imagining what happened?
– How have things been for you since [that] happened?
– Has [what happened] changed how you look at things, like how you see people or God?
– What kind of impact do you think this [thing that happened] is going to have on you a little farther in the future?
– Has [what happened] made anything harder for you now?
– How do you feel like your body is responding to going through [this]?
– Do you ever get taken over with memories or feelings about [it]?
– Has [what happened] changed how you feel about you?
Talking to TCKS and families – Saying You Recognize the Posttraumatic Stress Pattern
Step 1) Describe the pattern – Trauma event + Impacts you see / they notice
– Re-experiencing = feeling like it’s happening again,
– Avoidance = not wanting to talk or think about it,
– Disturbance of mood and cognition = feeling worse about yourself or the world or God,
– Hyperarousal = feeling like you’re always on edge
Step 2) Say all this is all normal to feel after a trauma, like breaking an arm if you fall from a tree. It’s not surprising, but you may need some help to heal.
Step 3) Tell them what you observe:
“It sounds like some of what you went through was actually pretty traumatic. It might still be affecting you. I’m thinking that because you said that you’re having nightmares about it and …”
“What you’re talking about seems like it kind of fits a pattern we call post traumatic stress. It might get better on its own, but it might not. It can get a lot better with help.”