Children who have experienced crime and trauma – especially very young children – may react by behaving differently.
If your child has been through a traumatic event, they might:
- feel confused or worried, of blame themselves for what happened
- be sad, angry, irritable, guilty or ashamed
- act out, disobey rules, cling to you or avoid other people
- suddenly not be able to the things they could do before the traumatic event, for example, use the toilet or get themselves dressed
- show physical signs, for example, have headaches or stomach aches or startle easily
- have problems sleeping or concentrating.
How you can help
You can help by:
- giving honest, simple and brief answers to their questions
- allowing your child to express their feelings and reactions
- reassuring them that they are still loved and will be cared for
- being patient if your child’s behaviour regresses
- keeping family routines and making things as normal as possible
- expressing your own fears honestly – admitting your fears and showing that you can handle them sends the message that they can overcome their fears too
- informing your child’s school or day-care so they are prepared for any behavioural changes or changes in grades
- accepting and allowing increased dependence – give more hugs if your child needs them and sit with them longer when they go to bed
- being a parent in the way you normally would – children still need boundaries and this helps them feel safe and secure.
After a crime or traumatic event, your child might need support. You can talk to your doctor about this. Other parents can also be a great source of support and ideas.
You can also see the list of government and community support agencies for children on this website or call the Victims Information Line on 0800 650 654 to find out about support agencies in your area.