Friday, December 9

What Can Be Done to Alleviate Anxiety in Kids With PTSD?

Coping with the aftermath of a traumatic event or experience can be challenging. The consequences can be even more frightening when it happens with kids. Whether your kid has experienced or witnessed images of any traumatic experience like mass shootings, earthquakes, violent crime, global pandemics, or terrorist attacks, they may be dealing with several issues.  

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a significant concern that may lead to harsh consequences if ignored. Traumatic events can strip them of their sense of safety, making them feel helpless, especially if the traumatic event comes from an act of violence, like a terrorist attack or a mass shooting. Moreover, only kids who have experienced such events don’t go through PTSD, but kids witnessing images of the event on social media or news can also have PTSD. It’s your responsibility as a parent to establish reassurance and help them move on. Here are some tips on alleviating anxiety in kids with PTSD. 

a boy crying tears for his loss

1. Help them Relax

Having flashbacks or nightmares about the traumatic event may trigger anxiety attacks leading to shallow breathing. One way you can help your kid in such a scenario is by letting them relax and focus on their breath. Shallow breathing, in turn, increases anxiety causing prolonged stress. Breathing exercises may help put your kids in a resting state via the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering the blood pressure and heart rate and inducing a sense of calm within their mind and body. Yoga can also be one of the best ways since there is a lot of breathwork involved in yoga too.  

Another way to help kids relax and make them feel calm can be CBD oil. Before you freak out reading the term, CBD is not highly psychoactive like THC in marijuana. So, you can rest assured about your kids experiencing any high during CBD usage. Several studies revealed that CBD oil might help alleviate anxiety disorders, including PTSD. 

boy wearing grey shirt while touching his head

2. Encourage Them to Express Their Feelings

Most of us underestimate the value of sharing and expressing our feelings during difficult times. Bottling up emotions until it reaches a tipping point becomes second nature. Significantly, among kids and teenagers, since most of them may not want to talk about it with their parents. That’s understandable, but as a parent, you might want to encourage them to talk about what they are experiencing and feeling every chance they get. If the kids are reluctant to speak to you, at least encourage them to talk to a trusted adult such as a relative, family friend, or teacher.  

Having them express their thoughts and feelings is critical, even if it’s not with you. Any unpleasant or disturbing feelings may pass once your kid has expressed them and lets them out. Regardless of PTSD and other concerns, it’s crucial to create a safe space for your kid to express their feelings to you so they can steer clear of any unwanted circumstances. 

3. Doing Things that They Enjoy

Post-traumatic stress disorder can make it difficult to focus and embrace positive emotions and experiences in life. Positive emotions are crucial for kids as it helps them in character development and becoming strong individuals. The best way to rekindle those positive emotions in an anxious kid is by indulging in activities you both enjoy. You and your kids might have a thing like singing, playing, traveling to new places, etc. It’s better to take time and enjoy doing all their favorite things.  

The bonding and the positive state of mind may help them distract from the disturbing flashbacks of any traumatic event. Moreover, the bonding might also help them confide in you and speak about their emotions, which is crucial, as mentioned above. You can also encourage your kid to go for art therapy or just therapy in general. The best part is that art therapy allows your kids to express their feelings visually if they are reluctant or cannot express them through words. You can also have their art inspected by professional art therapists to gauge their state of mind. 

person sitting and writing don

Final Thoughts 

Those are some tips you can follow to alleviate anxiety in kids dealing with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Anxiety can lead to a vicious cycle of stress and depression when ignored. Talking to kids about their emotions and reassuring sense of safety and well-being plays a huge role in moving on from a traumatic event. It’s better to let them grieve over any loss of a friend, pet, home, or a relative due to the traumatic event. Doing so might enable them to make peace with the loss and move on. Apart from the things mentioned in this article, therapy is a crucial step toward alleviating anxiety caused due to PTSD.