Kid's Reaction to Scary Events
Updated: Nov 9
Did you know that kids reaction to scary situations and traumatic events varies widely? In fact it is just as common for a kiddo to have no symptoms after a huge event as it is for them to have ALL the symptoms.
Here are some of the reactions that kids could experience after a big event:
Big Feelings: Kids might have big feelings after something scary happens. They could feel sad, scared, or even angry. It's important for parents and caregivers to understand that these feelings are a natural response.
Behavior Changes: Sometimes, you might notice that a child's behavior changes. They might become more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or act out. This is their way of telling you that they need some extra support.
Nightmares and Flashbacks: Kids may have nightmares or flashbacks of the scary event. This is their brain trying to process what happened. It's hard to watch them experience, but it's a way of healing.
Physical Symptoms: Children might complain of stomachaches or headaches. Stress and fear often show up in our bodies, so it's important to pay attention to these signs.
Regression: A child may start doing things they used to do when they were younger, like thumb-sucking or bedwetting. It's a way of seeking comfort and safety.
Reenactment: Many kids, especially those under the age of 6 will reenact the scary event in their play.
Now, that you know what you might expect to see, what do you do?
Be there for them.
Listen to them, hug them, and let them know that their experience is normal. Remind them that they are safe.
And if these symptoms start interfering with their life...with their ability to play, and experience joy, their relationships, and/or school therapists like me are here to help too!
Therapists (especially those who specialize in kids) have techniques and games to help kids talk about their feelings.
Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how kids react to traumatic experiences. Every child is unique. It is just as likely for a kiddo to have no significant symptoms as it is for a child to need therapy.
With love, patience, and sometimes a little professional help, they WILL heal and grow stronger.