How a Parent’s PTSD Affects Children

Parents with PTSD are in a very unique situation. Being a strong role model is an important part of being a parent; however, when PTSD enters the picture, it can make things very difficult in the home. Children are acutely aware of what their parents do. So, when posttraumatic stress disorder becomes a clear problem in the family, it can have several negative effects on the children.

How PTSD Symptoms Affect Kids

PTSD symptoms can vary between individuals. However, the effects of all symptoms can be far-reaching; especially when children are involved. Symptoms of a parent’s PTSD can affect children in the following ways:

  • Flashbacks can feel vivid and real. They can also be scary to a small child who may not understand what her parent is reacting to
  • Anger and the potential for violent behavior can have serious consequences for children; abuse could become a factor
  • Feelings of depression, high levels of anxiety, and feeling disconnected from the world can leave a child feeling as though he does not have a parent who cares about him
  • Being constantly on edge and easily startled can frighten a small child who may not understand your reaction if she accidentally sneaks up on you
  • Withdrawing from friends and family will be very noticeable to children
  • Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to financial instability and a host of other concerns within the home; not to mention that this kind of behavior is never appropriate in front of impressionable children

Children may react in different ways when they are living with parents with untreated PTSD. Some of their reactions and behaviors can be very frustrating to a parent who is trying to cope with their own issues. Children of PTSD parents may exhibit the following reactions:

  • Behavioral problems that include anger, talking back, and acting out in negative attention-seeking ways
  • Drinking and drug usage, especially in teenagers
  • Violent behavior
  • Depression and generally withdrawing from friends and family members
  • Running away
  • Thoughts of or attempted suicide
  • Problems in school or in regular activities

It should be clear that the parents with PTSD are not the only ones who require help; family PTSD treatment can benefit all members of the family. Every member of the family can learn how to get through this difficult stage with PTSD counseling.

Find PTSD Treatment

The sooner that you reach out for PTSD treatment, the sooner your family will be able to establish a sense of normalcy and stability. Call our toll-free 24 hour helpline to discuss your family’s need for PTSD treatment. Our knowledgeable counselors can help you to find PTSD treatment plans that will work with and for you.