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Episode 88: Has Your Child Been Traumatized? with Dr. Melissa Goldberg-Mintz

Brief summary of show:

Has your child been traumatized?

How can you tell? And better yet, what do you do if they have?

How do we support our kids through the traumatic events they experience?

Joining me for this conversation is Dr. Melissa Goldberg-Mintz.

Melissa Goldberg-Mintz, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Houston, Texas, and Clinical Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Goldberg Mintz is passionate about providing evidence-based care to children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced trauma. Her new book, HAS YOUR CHILD BEEN TRAUMATIZED? How to Know and What to Do to Promote Healing and Recovery is out now.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:20] Adverse events

  • [3:45] Most common types of trauma

  • [5:20] How to tell if it’s trauma or not

  • [7:50] What to do once you’re identified trauma

  • [11:10] Writing her book due to a traumatic event

  • [14:20] How to limit your child’s exposure to traumatic news and media

  • [15:20] Processing trauma later in life

  • [19:55] How often adults and children have unresolved trauma

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Dr. Melissa Goldberg-Mintz

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie: Is my child dealing with trauma or just normal hardships in life? And what about me is that hard thing? I'm dealing with a trauma response. We're gonna answer those questions in today's podcast.


[00:00:14] Natalie: Hi everyone, it's Natalie. Thanks for being here today. Trauma, what is it? Why do we need to be aware of trauma in ourselves and what could potentially be trauma in our kids? Also, I wanna talk today about. When does a child, or when do you need professional help? Also, we're gonna talk about how can you speed up recovery from trauma.

[00:00:38] You know, there's so much that we deal with in today's world, from the pandemic to school shootings, to the things that we see sometimes on the news or just on social media that trigger. What could be trauma from your childhood? So today I wanna get into that and I have the expert that you're gonna love and we're gonna learn from today.

[00:00:57] Her name is Dr. Melissa Melissa Goldberg Mince. She's a clinical psychologist in private practice in Houston, Texas. Also a clinical assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Goldberg Minz is passionate about providing evidence based care to children, adolescents, and adults who have experienced trauma.

[00:01:17] Her new book is called, has Your Child Been Traumatized? How to Know and What to Do to Promote Healing and Recovery. I wanna encourage you to hit subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Most importantly, take the time to think about how you can better yourself and your kids in dealing with hardships, which is sometimes trauma. onto the episode now with Dr. Melissa.

[00:01:43] Dr. Melissa, thank you for joining me today. I wanna dive into this issue of trauma because so often we think of trauma and after many years in the news business, I think of trauma often as a big event. Um, the school shootings a traumatic thing that's happened, but is it always that.

[00:02:03] Melissa: No, and I'm so glad that you asked cuz that is a really common misconception that people have about trauma.

[00:02:10] Um, and actually before I get into what trauma is, there's another term we need to think about and that term is, um, adverse event. So an adverse event is something big like a school shooting, or you know, something more commonplace like a car crash or, you know, a natural disaster or being bullied at school.

[00:02:30] Um, so all these things are adverse events, uh, that can impact kids. And if there's not a natural recovery from this event, then trauma can develop in the body.

[00:02:40] Natalie: So trauma and as you put it, adverse. It's gonna happen to everyone. I mean, that's what builds our resiliency and our character and so much of that.

[00:02:50] But that response you're talking about is what I wanna get into and how, how we help our kids and ourselves

[00:02:56] Melissa: deal with that. Right? Yes, absolutely. Yeah. And I think you're so right. They're so pervasive. Um, so many studies have shown, like in our country, before kids hit their 18th birthday, most kids will experience some type of adverse event.

[00:03:11] So you're spot on with that. Yeah. So let's,

[00:03:14] Natalie: let's talk about how we deal with that.

[00:03:15] First of all, of all, let's identify what those things might be. You mentioned a few of them, but let's identify what more of those types of things.

[00:03:25] Melissa: Sure. So some of the most common are, um, sexual abuse, sexual violence in a dating relationship.

[00:03:32] Um, physical abuse, witnessing domestic violence, having a parent that has mental illness or substance abuse issues, witnessing community violence. Um, but you know, they can, I mean, , it can really be anything. So like I've seen kids who've been attacked by the family pet and had that turn into trauma, um, or being thrown into a pool at a party and not knowing how to swim.

[00:03:55] Like all these things just sound so ordinary. Um, but they absolutely have the potential to traumatize.

[00:04:01] Natalie: That's a, that's a lot of things you also mentioned, uh, bullying or, uh, you know, somebody, we hear so much now about sexting or someone saying something mean about a kid in a text and they have that fear that people are gonna see them differently than everyone else.

[00:04:18] I mean, are those adverse events and trauma type things as well?

[00:04:23] Melissa: Yeah, so it can be, is what I'll say. Um, so many of these things that, you know, have the potential to turn into trauma. Two kids could experience the literally the exact same thing, and one might go on to be traumatized and another might not be faced by it at all.

[00:04:40] So how

[00:04:40] Natalie: do we know? That's what I think is important as a parent to say, okay, this bad thing happened to my kid. Were they traumatized or are they just gonna bounce back and they're.

[00:04:50] Melissa: Right? Yes. So what I tell parents to look for in their kids, um, is a change from baseline behavior. So things like eating, sleeping, socializing, academic functioning.

[00:05:01] You know, if you've got a kid who just loves sleep, who you know, Is not an issue to get into bed at night and love sleeping in on the weekends, who now all of a sudden is trying to avoid bedtime, um, and is constantly tired. That might be a red flag. Um, you know, if you had a kid who loved eating and who was super enthusiastic about snack time in between meals, who now isn't hungry?

[00:05:24] Red flag. Um, you know, if you had a kid who was like, did not have a super big appetite to begin with, and then something scary happened and they stayed about the same, that is not as concerning as when we notice those big changes in baseline.

[00:05:37] Natalie: so I have two older girls in college and then a 13 year old boy.

[00:05:42] And so much of this age tween years is different though. I mean, he can have a day where he's starving and then a day where he's like, I'm not interested. And so those identifiers that you're giving me, we really have to know our kids baseline and watch for trends. I'm.

[00:06:00] Melissa: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So one day is not enough to concern me.

[00:06:04] Mm-hmm. especially, you know, if you've got a kid and it's about a month after something scary happened and they're still having sleep avoidance or nightmares or something like that, um, and it's not just like some one off thing, then yes, that would be a red flag to

[00:06:18] Natalie: me. Okay. So I'm hearing you say, so I wanna give parents a checklist and we can put some of this in the show notes.

[00:06:24] Sleep issues. Mm-hmm. eating issues. Mm-hmm. , um, What else? Those are the two main ones I just heard. What are the other red flags we might watch?

[00:06:33] Melissa: Social issues. So if you had a kid that was a social butterfly who now just like wants to spend the weekends in the room by themselves, that would be a red flag.

[00:06:42] Um, and even issues in the family. So if you had a kid who liked to joke around with brothers or sisters and you know, things like that, who now is just trying to stay in their room, doesn't wanna come down to the family meal or is coming but is kind of stolen and not really participating, just picking at their food.

[00:06:56] Um, that would be a red flag. Uh, if you had a kid who loved learning and was enthusiastic about school, but now doesn't wanna go or isn't paying attention is distracted, you're getting reports from the teacher, um, that would be a red flag. Uh, so really any of these things that is just a normal part of your kid's day to day life.

[00:07:17] If you're noticing an ongoing change there, that might be a little.

[00:07:21] Natalie: So we see these things. Say you're identifying something and you're thinking, okay, time to act. What do you do? Yeah,

[00:07:30] Melissa: absolutely. And so I, I think it would. Let me, let me actually add something else too. So when I talk to parents, I tell them, look for these changes in baseline.

[00:07:40] But when I talk to professionals and do professional trainings, we're looking for something a little bit more specific. So we're looking for symptoms of post-traumatic stress. If there's a kid who's experienced an adverse event, and so these symptoms fall into five different categor. And so, um, these include having negative feelings like fear, horror, anger, shame, or guilt.

[00:08:02] Um, negative thoughts like, the world's not a safe place, or I'