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Does my 3-year-old have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Q: My 3-year-old daughter had a bad experience with a noisy fire truck and is now terrified of them. Anytime a siren goes off she yells, “I want to go home.” Could she have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and if so, how do I deal with it? By the way, I work full-time nights. Last year I had surgery and radiation for cancer, which required me to be away for a while.
Debora Utah
A: In time your daughter’s fear should disappear, particularly if you respond supportively to her. She says she wants to go home because that’s the safest place she knows. When she does this, hold her and comfort her. Don’t feel compelled to go home because she feels upset. Your daughter doesn’t have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, so don’t worry about that.

Your cancer, hospitalization and work schedule probably has had more of an effect on her than anything else. Find ways to spend one-on-one time with her, with plenty of hugs and cuddling. Your little girl needs to feel secure. There’s no better medicine than spending time with a happy mummy. Good luck!
Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist