Doctor gives advice on how to treat PTSD in children

NEW ORLEANS, La. – Two-thirds of children will be exposed to at least one traumatic event by the time they reach 16. 

Not every one of those kids will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, but for those who do, there are some guidelines parents should follow. 

Dr. Michael Scheeringa, professor of psychiatry at Tulane University School of Medicine, has spent more than 20 years studying PTSD in children as young as 3.

Scheeringa said getting the right help for a child can be tough.

"It's hard to find a lot of help, sometimes, in the mental health field. We have more quality information about the shingles on our roofs and about the cereal on our breakfast table than we have about mental health clinicians," Scheeringa said.

Scheeringa said when looking for help, pediatricians can be a good source to use and parents should never be afraid to ask difficult questions.

"Have you ever seen a child like mine? How many children have you treated with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder? What kind of psychotherapy do you plan on doing?" asked Scheeringa, who added that the right kind of questions can help your child adjust to their new normal. 

Scheeringa has a PTSD checklist online for parents to measure the potential impact of a traumatic event on a young child. 

To view the checklist, click here.