Understanding Teenage Trauma: 10 Tips to Help Recovery from Traumatic Events

Has your teen gone through a traumatic event like losing a loved one or surviving a car crash? Is he/she struggling with the strong emotions from a frightening experience? Did you know that teens cope with trauma in a different way than adults and younger children do?

In the aftermath of teen trauma, parents should offer help by understanding the ways in which teenagers cope with distress. In such moments, teens can feel very helpless and highly sensitive.

According to The Better Health Channel (that’s a part of the Digital Strategy and Services Unit in the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services), it’s normal to experience strong physical or emotional reactions after a high-stress event.

But, teens who deal with trauma are often very worried about the strong emotions they’re having all of a sudden. It all becomes overwhelming for them and as they lack life experience, the situation is even more complicated.

Parents need to know the right ways to help them manage. But, this isn’t always easy and some teens may refuse help because of mood changes and high sensitivity they’re experiencing.

However, this shouldn’t set you back from your goal. Regardless of their age, your child needs support and reassurance after a trauma.

The problem happens when parents aren’t sufficiently informed about trauma symptoms, effects, and options for treatment and consequently, the teen’s recovery is impeded.

The Children’s Bureau’s Child Welfare Information Gateway notes that by misinterpreting the child’s attitude, many parents end up feeling resentful and frustrated and consequently, address the teen’s attitude ineffectively.

The child won’t receive the needed support and may not be able to go back to their normal self easily.

The challenge is to be aware that their reactions to the trauma may be affected by your response. So, it’s pivotal to stay educated about trauma and healing from it.

Knowing the adequate coping mechanisms can help to bring back your teen’s trust in the world and improve their emotional balance.

To help you become more informed on this important subject, check out our 10 useful tips on how to help your teen cope with trauma.


10 Useful Tips to Help Teens Recover from Trauma

     1. Keep the communication active

Without a doubt, good communication is the staple of good and productive parenting.

And, this most certainly applies when helping your teen recover from trauma. The distress may cause a lot of burden and prevent your teen from functioning normally. Children who’ve experienced a distressful event need to feel loved and safe.

Karen Young a psychologist, founder of Hey Sigmund and contributor writer, explains that regardless of how/what your teen is feeling, you need to ensure them that it’s okay to feel that way.

Point out that feelings are to be accepted and when you show them you’re recognizing their emotions, you make it easier for them to do the same.

Always emphasize you’re available to hear about their thoughts, emotions, questions and spend time with them- hug and kiss them.

Show them by your own example that feeling sad for the people who’ve been hurt or lost is acceptable and helps us develop our compassion and empathy, as well as the importance of being strong in the face of adversity.


      2. Work on their perspective

Trauma can weaken our belief in the world’s predictability and security, especially in teens, and cause them to feel anxious and overwhelmed. This is why parents need to be there to help them regain perspective and control over the situation.

The first step is to talk and learn more about what happened and the reasons for it. Be honest, yet don’t go into too many unpleasant details to prevent their stress from increasing.

If your teen’s worried about mass shootings and the increase in terrorism, note that for every horrible act, there’s a lot more people in the world trying to better things.

Point out that when bad things happen, we need to come together and look for each other. Be sure to show them your own faith in the world and that they can grow and thrive in it.

When talking with your teen about a traumatic experience they’ve gone through, you may often be asked a lot of questions you don’t have answers to. When this happens, don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’.

Remember, we’re all humans and scary world events aren’t something that makes sense to any of us. It’s never a good approach to make things up and put your teen’s trust in you at stake.


     3. Ensure they eat well & exercise

The food our children eat can impact their mood and capacity to manage trauma, according to Help Guide. Make sure they eat a lot of fruits and veggies, quality protein, and good fats.

Avoid the refined drinks and foods and too much sugar as they can additional worsen the mood changes and other symptoms.

Try to prepare them warming and soothing homemade meals and eat together around the table. Talk amongst each other and share your supportive and kind words. This can help them recuperate and gain trust in the world- they’ll feel safe and supported.

But, never push them into doing or eating something they don’t want to. Rather, explain how this will feel good and help them relax. Give them a lot of space for rest too.

Being physically active is also vital for teens, especially if they’re going through a tough period. Go to a hiking trip together or visit the swimming pool. Show them that there are a lot of beautiful and worthy things in life to be happy about.