Be sure to encourage the child to ask questions and share their feelings while you discuss as this can help them handle what you are explaining much easier.
Planning the discussion will also benefit you and your child. Make sure they are not too tired, sick, grumpy, or having a bad day as the conversation could end abruptly, or they may have a more difficult time accepting what they are being told.
If you are feeling nervous, try practicing talking in the mirror or record yourself and play it back. The more comfortable you are while talking about it, the more comfortable they will be.
This conversation probably won’t be a onetime experience either. Be sure you are prepared to be asked questions and to explain things over again. It may take time, but children will become more accepting and willing to show more empathy, the better they understand what is happening.
If you are feeling uncomfortable bringing up the topic or are unsure how to start, there are various children’s books revolving around PTSD. “Why Is Dad So Mad?” is a book written by an Army veteran for his daughter to help her understand what battles he has every day. “The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside, “Why Are You So Scared?” by Beth Andrews, and “Daddy’s Home” by Carolina Nadel are three other children’s books that explain PTSD.
Opening this discussion can be extremely helpful for your children to understand the PTSD symptoms they may be witnessing.