Talking to Kids about Trauma


girl and woman sitting on bed talking. trauma. des moines momDes Moines Mom wants to create a safe space for ongoing conversations about mental health. 

As parents, you hate to think of your kids experiencing trauma, but unfortunately, it is part of life. Talking to kids about trauma isn’t easy, but it’s important to have these conversations with our kids so we can help them process it.

Trauma can present in a variety of ways, whether it’s the death of a grandparent, natural disaster, war, or school violence. Even if you think your kids have a stress-free life, they have probably encountered some kind of trauma in it.

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Therapist Shay Sholtes, LMHC, CADC, defines different types of trauma and shares how to talk to kids about these hard topics. Shay is a local mom to 3 littles and has a private practice in West Des Moines. 

Tips for Talking to Kids About Trauma

What are common types of trauma that kids may experience? 

There are two main types of trauma, acute and complex. Acute trauma is a single event, like a natural disaster or death in the family. Complex trauma is something that occurs over time, like physical abuse or domestic violence. 

Why is it important to have conversations with your kids when they have experienced trauma?

Sometimes conversations about trauma happen naturally. Your kid may ask a question about something they overheard on the news or you might overhear them talking about an event and ask them about it. 

Some kids may not talk about things they hear and don’t understand. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of it. If your kids haven’t said anything it’s a good idea to bring up the topic and ask if they have any questions about it. Shay recommends parents stick to the facts and keep the conversation age-appropriate. 

What are signs to look for that you should seek professional help for your child dealing with trauma? 

Parents know their kids best. If you notice your child is acting differently or behavior is changing, this is a sign you might want to talk to your child about trauma or seek professional help. 

Watch more of my conversation with Shay Scholtes about “Talking to Kids About Trauma.”

Connect with Shay Scholtes

ShayShay Scholtes provides counseling for children, adolescents, and adults who may struggle with anxiety, depression, trauma/PTSD, or substance abuse-related issues.

Emotional and mental health is just as important as physical health. Helping others reach their full potential in their lives and holding space for them is an absolute privilege. Learn more at Shay Scholtes, LLC


Thank you for making time to help normalize the conversation about mental health. In this ongoing monthly series, we will be talking about mental health for ourselves, for our kids, our spouses, and our families. 

See more of our conversations about Mental Health


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