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Recognizing When Your Child Is Distressed

Child looking down, sad

Children are sensitive and can struggle to make sense of events that are traumatizing and deadly. There are common symptoms people experience following a traumatic event. Your children may experience only some or many of these:  

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Stomach and/or digestive problems
  • Bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, acting out or other behaviors from when they were younger
  • Reduced awareness or lack of concentration
  • Difficulty paying attention at school, forgetting to complete or turn in assignments
  • Feeling numb or not part of the world
  • Isolation, spending more time alone and less time with friends
  • Indecisive
  • Helplessness/hopelessness 
  • Bad dreams or flashbacks
  • Feeling like the scary event is happening again
  • Scary thoughts they can't control
  • Staying away from people and places that are reminders of what happened
  • Feeling worried, guilty or sad
  • Lack of responsiveness
  • Lack of interest in things that once interested them
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or eating habits
  • Feeling on edge, nervous or easily startled
  • Irritable and angry outbursts
  • More conflict with teachers, friends, siblings and parents
  • Thoughts of self-harm or hurting others 

If your child exhibits these or other concerning behaviors for more than two weeks, seek professional help.  For additional advice, help and resources on parenting through a crisis situation, contact the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000. Trained counselors are available 24/7.