When your child goes through a traumatic event such as being restrained, the lingering and ongoing anxiety can really take a toll on the whole family. Many families don't know where to turn or how to deal with this anxiety disorder.
Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) is a trauma based anxiety disorder that develops in the wake of
a traumatic event. The feeling of being threatened lingers long after the
actual threat has passed. A parent may pull their traumatized child from
the school where the restraint occurred, however, the anxiety continues.
This is because the trauma experienced through restraint overwhelms a child's
ability to deal with it, creating more anxiety. A viscious cycle
PTSD is not an individualized anxiety disorder and the
entire family is affected in one way, shape or form. You may find a
backslide in behaviors such as the child may have an even harder time getting
along with others, may withdraw from activities they once loved, become
aggressive and even violent in severe cases. In response to the child's
behaviors, each family member in turn experiences their own emotions related to
the trauma and child's anxious behaviors.
As parents of a child
who has been restrained and is struggling with PTSD, it is natural to feel
intense sympathy or even empathy. However, use caution as too much
sympathy can make the child feel that you do not believe that he can recover and
get past this.
Parents and other family members may develop
depression and anxiety. Why? Because the sense of security is
gone. Parents send their child to school, a supposed safe
environment. That sense of security was ripped from beneath their feet
leaving parents feeling vulnerable, worried, unable to trust which can lead to
depression and anxiety in the parent.
Many parents feel guilt and
shame, however irrational or not. This is a common feeling because parents
feel that they are supposed to protect their children and that in some way, they
feel they failed in that role to protect their child. A lot of self
flagellation with the would ov's, could ov's, should ov's occurs. The
reality is, parents never saw it coming. There was nothing they could
have, should have, or would have done differently.
Anger at it's utmost
depth is felt by parents. Many parents dive head first into advocacy to
put an end to the use of restraint in our nations schools as a productive outlet
for our anger. This is normal and a healthy way to express it. Some
families may be angry with God for allowing this to happen. Families are
righteously angry with the perpertrators and those who have supported the
attempts to cover it up.
Sadly, parents may try to quell their
feelings through substance abuse.
If any of those descriptions resonate
with you, take those feelings and immerse yourself in learning all that you can
about PTSD, anxiety, trauma and all the available therapeutic options available.
Make sure you take care of you. Your children need you to be
strong and at your best. Find ways to deal with your anxiety so that you
can continue to be strong for your child. Seek our treatment for your
child and for yourself if needed.
Seek out a professional who has
experience working with childhood trauma. Look for other families out
there who have been through the traumatic ordeal. Keeping it all bottled
up inside may only manifest as anger turned inward, leading to depression.
It is truly underestimated just how greatly PTSD impacts the
family. It is as if the whole family develops a form of PTSD in response
to children being restrained in school.
For more information,
check out Gateway to PTSD Info