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There are times in life that traumatic situations occur and they can come to us in the form of an earthquake, a flood, a violent act, the death of a loved one, etc.
How old the child is affects how he will react to this disaster. For example, a seven-year-old child may manifest not wanting to go to school, while an adolescent may downplay the tragedy, while showing a deterioration in school performance. In this case we will focus on how children from 0 to 3 years old live it and what role adults play in all of them.
To begin, you have to remember that each child is different and has their way of reacting. Reactions of fear, sadness, and anxiety vary. They are not equal to that of adults and neither are they the same between those of one child and another. In addition, it is important to know that at these ages we can find that they cannot express themselves linguistically in a perfect way. Thus, we must be attentive to other types of signs:
- Trouble sleeping.
- Return to previous stages of development. Some of the learning behaviors may regress, for example, the return to diapers due to the loss of toilet training.
- will appear more tantrums and on a recurring basis. They will cry more. We will take into account that the limits that existed must continue even if they are relaxed in the first days.
- The way to show sadness in children is complex. Many times more than sad they are irritable. When they can talk, phrases like: 'I hate you, I don't love you, this is all your fault'. We have to think that it is the way that children have to verbalize that sadness.
- Demand more attention. They will have more trouble moving away from the reference adult.
There are many things that adults can do for a child who has just experienced a traumatic event. For example:
- Containment: It does not refer to forbidding the child to do something, but to do it in a controlled manner accompanying them to avoid harmful situations such as: hitting the floor or the wall.
- You have to give the child security and affection so that he feels comforted.
- To calm. Give a space for the child to cry or scream
- You have to take into account the small details, try to help the child to relax. May I have a moment of rest. We will do this by carrying out routines such as: sing to him, tell him a story, or give him a warm bath ...
- Report: We must say things in a slow and calm tone. We will keep in mind that this step is much more important as children grow older. That is, despite the fact that in 2-3 year old children expressive language is not as well developed, compressive language is. Therefore, at this age it is important to explain the situation to them and answer questions such as: What has happened? What will happen from now on? It is also convenient to give them the option to ask and answer them truthfully.
- Normalize: Make him see that he is not the only one who has these feelings or those reactions. For example, if he sees us cry, he will allow himself to cry. Many times, our feeling of 'protecting' them from seeing us cry gives them the idea that doing so is wrong. We restrict the child from doing it, we make him keep it for him, and this is harmful to him.
- Comfort and try to do positive activities with them. Give them control of small tasks so that they feel useful: Establish daily routines, that they see that something serious has happened, that there has been a 'break' but that life and other things continue.
- Allow them to play or draw about what has happened: Do not ask them to do so explicitly, but allow it if it appears spontaneously in the child as they need to integrate it into their daily life.
If after four weeks this type of behavior continues to occur, we will consider consulting a specialist.
You can read more articles similar to How to explain a catastrophe to children aged 0-3, in the category of Death on site.