Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event
A traumatic event can be something that happens in nature (such as a flood or earthquake). It can be something one person does to another person (such as shooting or hitting someone). When very young children see such an event—or if someone hurts them—they may not be able to tell you how they feel. Teenagers may not want to tell you. Even months later, a child or teen may still be scared or sad. This page (1) explains how children of different ages may react to a traumatic event, and (2) gives parents and caregivers ways to help their children understand and get better.
Early Childhood Trauma (2010) (PDF)
Early childhood trauma usually means a trauma that happens to a baby or a child under age six. This page (1) explains some of the difficulties that can result from early childhood trauma, (2) describes symptoms to look for in your child, (3) lists ways to help protect your child, (4) provides ideas for helping your children and family get better faster, and (5) lists treatments for young children.
Información en Español
La NCTSN ha creado los siguientes recursos que detallan como ayudar a los padres y a las personas al cuidado de los niños para que puedan entender y responder al Estrés Traumático Infantil.
Physical Punishment: What Parents Should Know (2009) (PDF)
Many parents believe that it is OK to punish their children by hitting them when they do things that are upsetting, wrong, or mean. This fact sheet gives parents (1) facts about how punishments can harm children and increase bad behavior, and (2) tips on effective ways to teach children to behave well.
Parenting in a Challenging World
"What can my family do to heal after a child has experienced a traumatic event?" "Will my child recover?" "How have other people coped?" Parents and caregivers face questions and cares like these after a child has experienced a traumatic event. These interactive pages look at those and other concerns with the help of scenes from the documentary film, Surviving September 11th: The Story of One New York Family.
Raising Well-Behaved Kids: What Parents Should Know (2009) (PDF)
There is no one right way to bring up children who behave well. This fact sheet gives parents more effective ways to have well-behaved children, including how to (1) cool down in intense situations, (2) use great communication strategies (such as how to time your requests for best results), (3) increase cooperation with praise, and (4) set limits on problem behavior with consequences.
Trauma and Your Family (2011) (PDF)
A traumatic event is a scary, dangerous, or violent event. Feeling bad after a trauma can happen to anyone following such an event. Some examples of traumatic events include: a car accident, a death, a house fire, and seeing a family member hurt a child or adult. This brochure provides a list of some of the signs that can show that a person is feeling very upset—for example, being tired or afraid or angry or sad most of the time. It also shows how to feel safe again and heal from the trauma.
Understanding Child Traumatic Stress: A Guide for Parents (2008) (PDF)
Entendimiento del Estrés Traumático Infantil: Una Guia para Padres
This resource provides examples of signs your children may be suffering from trauma and ways to take care of them so that they can recover.
Understanding Traumatic Stress in Adolescents (2007) (PDF)
This brochure is for professionals who treat teenagers that have experienced trauma, are using drugs and/or alcohol, or all three. It describes how some types of stresses are connected. This includes certain problems at home and in school, and being reminded of a trauma by seeing or hearing something similar to it. It also shows how understanding these links will lead to better choices when caring for teenagers.
What Is Child Traumatic Stress?
Many children will experience trauma during their lives, and some of them will develop traumatic stress. Learn more about what trauma is, why it occurs, and what to look for in your child after a trauma.
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Childhood Traumatic Grief
Childhood Traumatic Grief Additional Resources — Resources for Caregivers (2010) (PDF)
This sheet is for parents and caregivers of children who are grieving from trauma. It includes a list of books, as well as a video and two games.
Coping with Unconfirmed Death: Tips for Caregivers of Children and Teens (2009) (PDF)
Sometimes a member of a child’s family or other important person in a child's life is believed to be dead, but the body has not been found. A few examples are people lost in war, earthquakes, and floods. In some ways, this “not knowing” can be almost as horrible as if the child or teen knew for sure that the person was dead. This resource provides ideas about how to help young people deal with their feelings (without forgetting about the person who is missing) and help them feel safe again.
Helping Military Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Parents (2014) (PDF)
This resource offers information on how children dealing with trauma and grief responses may feel and how you can help them.
Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers (2014) (PDF)
This resource describes how teens may feel when struggling with the death of someone close and what caregivers can do to help.
It's OK to Remember: Understanding Childhood Traumatic Grief (2005) (Video)
This video shows how a family can get through terrible pain and gradually heal. Members of the family talk about the traumatic grief that one daughter feels after the sudden death of her sister. The video provides tips to help parents, teachers, children’s doctors, and others who care for children to understand and help them deal with their grief.
Sibling Death and Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Families (2009) (PDF)
The death of anyone dear to them can be sad and very difficult for a child or teen. But when a brother or sister dies, the family faces special issues and problems. Afterward, children may behave in new ways (such as crying more than usual, having trouble sleeping, being angry and fearful, wanting to be alone). This brochure gives families a list of these types of reactions to grief, as well as tips on ways to help the grieving child and ways the parents or caregivers can deal with their own grief. There is also a list of books on the topic, and links to three websites and a video.
Additional Resources on Sibling Death and Child Traumatic Grief—Resources for Caregivers (2010) (PDF)
This is a list of books and a video for parents and caregivers of children who have lost a brother or sister.
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Ready to Remember: Jeremy’s Journey of Hope and Healing (2011) (PDF)
This tells the story of what happens to a 10-year-old boy after the death of his father. Jeremy is having many problems at school and at home. With a lot of beautiful drawings the book shows Jeremy and his family as they get help and how they can now enjoy happy memories together. There is a guide for caregivers iwith ideas for how to use this book to talk with their children and family about grief in the back of the book.
Trinka and Sam: The Rainy Windy Day (2008) (PDF)
Trinka y Juan en un día de mucho viento y lluvia (2010) (PDF)
This story helps young children and their families begin to talk about feelings and worries they may have after a hurricane hits their neighborhood. Trinka and Sam are mice, and when it begins to rain and get windy, they become scared and worried. The rain and wind remind them of the hurricane that came before. The story explains why they felt that way and how their parents help them to talk about their feelings. This makes Trinka and Sam feel safer. There is a guide for parents in the back of the book, offering ways that they can use the story to help their children.
Trinka and Sam: The Day the Earth Shook (2011) (PDF)
This is another story about the two mice Trinka and Sam. An earthquake shakes the neighborhood where they live. Trinka and Sam feel a lot of different things when they see what has happened to their neighborhood after the earthquake. The book shows how Trinka and Sam’s parents help them talk about their feelings and feel safer, and it provides a guide to ways parents can use the story to help their own children. The storybook is also available in Japanese.
Children and Domestic Violence Fact Sheet Series (2013)
(PDF) The NCTSN Domestic Violence Collaborative Group announces a new series of fact sheets created for parents whose children have been affected by domestic violence. The set of 10 fact sheets gets to the heart of the experiences and needs of these children and families, and offers education in support of their resilience and recovery.
This six page Q&A answers questions many people ask about how violence in the family can affect children, including (1) how many children have seen violence, (2) whether men are usually the ones who hurt people, (3) whether violence happens in rich and poor families, and (4) whether all children feel the same things after they see violence.
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At the Hospital: Helping My Child Cope: What Parents Can Do (2004) (PDF) After the Hospital: Helping My Child Cope: What Parents Can Do
En el Hospital: Cómo Ayudar a Mi Hijo a Sobrellevar la Situación (2009) (PDF)
When a child is very ill or injured, the whole family can suffer. Both children and parents can have symptoms of trauma when a child is sick, hurt, or has to go to the hospital. Most parents feel helpless, unable to heal their child or feel better themselves. This fact sheet gives parents ideas about what to do and to say to their child—such as staying with your child in the hospital as much as possible, letting your child ask the doctors and nurses questions, and reminding your child that it’s OK to be scared or to cry.
This two page handout gives parents ideas about helping their child after they come out of the hospital. Especially in the first days and weeks after being in the hospital, children might behave differently than they did before. They may keep thinking about why they were in the hospital, become upset more often, not sleep well, feel scared, or have stomachaches. Sometimes they might want to stay away from places and things that remind them of the event (such as the hospital). Usually children do get better, as time passes, with help and understanding from their parents. At the Hospital: Helping My Teen Cope: What Parents Can Do
(2004) (PDF) En el Hospital: Cómo Ayudar a Mi Adolescente a Sobrellevar la Situación
When a teen is very ill or injured, the whole family can suffer. Both teens and parents can have symptoms of trauma, even though your teen is the one who is ill or injured. Most parents feel helpless, unable to heal their teen or feel better themselves. This fact sheet suggests things for parents to do or say—such as being honest about a painful test or possible results from surgery, or having a nurse introduce your teen to other teens in the hospital going through something similar. Medical Traumatic Stress: Suggested Resources for Parents
This is a list of books, articles, and websites that can help parents deal with the injury or illness of a child.
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Military Children & Families
Military Families Knowledge Bank
This is a list of online articles that can help military families—and the nurses, doctors, and support people who work with them—with health issues, such as helping the soldier after the injury, talking with children whose parents have been hurt, and dealing with the anniversary of a terrible event (such as 9/11).
Traumatic Grief in Military Children: Information for Families (2008) (PDF)
This fact sheet helps families and children who have lost a loved one in the military.
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Child Physical Abuse Fact Sheet (2009) (PDF)
“Physical abuse” of a child is any act by a parent, caregiver, or other trusted person that causes physical injury, even if the person did not mean to cause that injury. This sheet (1) lists the ages of children most likely to be hurt in this way, (2) explains what may happen to the child afterward, (3) lists signs that your child may be being physically abused, and (4) provides ideas on how to help these children.
Questions & Answers about Child Physical Abuse (2008) (PDF)
This sheet answers frequently asked questions about the physical abuse of children, including (1) how many children in the U.S. are abused, (2) what kind of person abuses children, (3) what can help children who have been physical abused, and (4) how to find help for the people who abuse children.
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Acquaintance Rape: Information for Parents and Caregivers (2009) (PDF)
This fact sheet (1) describes acquaintance rape, (2) explains that acquaintance rape can happen to boys as well as girls, (3) tells how acquaintance rape occurs and the typical age of the teens involved, (4) gives ideas for protecting teens from rape by an acquaintance, and (5) tells parents how to help a teen after she or he has been raped.
“But Who Should I Tell?” Questions and Answers about Seeking Help after Sexual Abuse (2011) (PDF)
This fact sheet helps teens decide what to do if they have been sexually abused, including (1) whether or not to tell others, (2) what might happen if they tell, (3) whom teens can go to for help, and (4) other places to get help.
Caring for Kids: What Parents Need to Know about Sexual Abuse (2009) (PDF)
Mostly for parents and caregivers who found out that their child has been sexually abused, this fact sheet (1) gives information about sexual abuse and sexuality; (2) advises parents on what to do if their child tells them that he or she has been abused; (3) explains acquaintance rape; (4) discusses children's sexual behavior and how to deal with it; (5) teaches about children and body safety; and (6) explains what can happen if a child has to go to court to tell about abuse.
Coping with the Shock of Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse: Information for Parents and Caregivers (2009) (PDF)
“Intrafamilial sexual abuse” means sexual abuse within the family, perhaps abuse of a child by a parent or a good friend or relative whom the child considers part of the family. This fact sheet (1) provides information about the affects of the abuse on both the abused child and family members, (2) helps parents deal with their reactions to the abuse, (3) lists places to go to for treatment and support, and (4) suggests books and articles to read.
It’s Never Your Fault: The Truth about Sexual Abuse (2011) (PDF)
This fact sheet (1) lists myths teens often believe about sexual assault and the facts for each one, (2) quotes teens who have been sexually abused, and (3) offers guidance on where to go for help.
Questions & Answers about Child Sexual Abuse (2007) (PDF)
Both girls and boys of any age—even babies—and teens are abused everywhere in the world. This Q & A (1) answers questions about children who have been sexually abused (2) lists signs that your child might have been sexually abused, (3) advises parents how to protect children from sexual abuse, (4) explains how sexual abuse affects children, and (5) suggests ways parents and child together can heal and recover.
Questions & Answers about Child Sexual Abuse Treatment (2007) (PDF)
This Q&A (1) answers questions about how to treat children who have been sexually abused, (2) provides information about types of treatment, (3) provides guidance on how to find the right person to treat your child, and (4) explains how to tell whether the treatment is working.
Sex? Or Sexual Abuse? Respect Yourself—Know the Difference (2011) (PDF)
This fact sheet (1) explains the difference between having sex and sexual abuse, (2) provides examples of “red flags”—such as being forced to have sex, being shamed if you don’t have sex, or being made to watch porn or someone else having sex, (3) describes date rape, and (4) suggests help for teens who have been raped or sexually abused.
What to Do If Your Child Discloses Sexual Abuse: Information for Parents and Caregivers (2009) (PDF)
This brochure (1) gives parents and caregivers steps to take if their child says he or she has been sexually abused, (2) helps parents and caregivers deal with their own feelings about their child's sexual abuse, and (3) suggests books to help children, parents, and caregivers heal and recover.
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Helping Your Teen Cope with Traumatic Stress and Substance Abuse: A Guide for Parents (2008) (PDF)
This fact sheet (1) shows parents the connections between trauma and drug abuse; (2) provides tips on helping your teen deal with trauma and stay drug free; (3) suggests (and provides helpful websites) where to go if your teen needs more help; (4) includes a chart of commonly abused drugs—listing the type, slang names, signs your child is using, and bodily reactions to taking that drug.
Recognizing Drug Use in Adolescents: A Quick Guide for Caregivers and Adults (2007) (PDF)
This fact sheet gives information on drugs abused by teens, including the name, how the drug is used, how a person behaves on the drug, and signs of bad reactions and overdoses.
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Terrorism and Disasters
Coping in Hard Times: Fact Sheet for Parents and Caregivers (2011) (PDF)
This fact sheet helps parents understand how their being out of work may affect the whole family, and provides ways to deal with this problem and where to turn for more help.
Emergency Medical Technician Pocket Card for Children and Families (2006) (PDF)
This card gives parents a few tips for helping their child when he or she suffers an injury, including things that help after he or she comes out of the hospital.
Family Preparedness: Thinking Ahead (2003)
This fact sheet gives families ideas for creating a plan so that they can be prepared if a disaster (such as an earthquake, flood, or tornado) happens in their area. Also available in Armenian, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Family Preparedness Wallet Card (2003)
This card fits in a wallet and has space to list emergency telephone numbers including community numbers (nearest fire station, police, hospital) and personal numbers (relatives, family doctors, children’s schools). Also available in Armenian, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Talking to Children about War and Terrorism (2003) (PDF)
This fact sheet (1) advises parents about how to talk with their children about terrorism and war; (2) provides the best ways to explain disasters to children of different ages; (3) suggests TV programs that children can watch on these subjects; (4) has a section on children from for example, military families who may need special attention, and (5) suggests ways to come together as a family in times of war.
Tips for Families on Anticipating Anniversary Reactions to Traumatic Events (2002) (PDF)
Sugerencias para la familia que anticipa reacciones adversas al aproximarse el aniversario de un acontecimiento traumático (PDF)
The anniversary of a tragic event can cause people to experience the same feelings they had when the event first happened, whether it is a personal event (such as a death in the family) or a mass tragedy (such as a school shooting, wildfire, or plane crash). This sheet helps families learn about symptoms that may mean their child is suffering and offers some tips for how to help them get better.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers on Media Coverage of Traumatic Events (2004) (PDF)
Children can be scared or worried by what they see and hear on TV about traumatic events. This sheet (1) provides tips on talking to children about what they saw and dealing with their questions; (2) suggests what to say to children before the anniversary of a tragic event (such as 9/11); and (3) includes, "When You and Your Children Are Part of the Story," a section for families if they are approached by the media for an interview after a traumatic event.
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The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has much more information to help families. For a complete list, follow the directions below.
- Go to www.nctsn.org .
- On the top of the page in the purple band you will see six choices.
- Click on Products .
- Go to the box under the words Listed by Audience.
- Click on the arrow on the right side of the box.
- In the list that comes up below, choose For Parents and Caregivers.
- Then click the Apply button (to the right of the box).
- A list will come up of all NCTSN resources for parents and caregivers.
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