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A traumatized girl hides herself behind her hand

How to Recognize the Effects of Trauma in Children

Far too many children in the world suffer from some sort of trauma-based disorder. Trauma in children usually occurs after a disturbing event that drastically impacts a child’s life. These events could be violent, dangerous, or emotionally destructive, among other things. However, regardless of the specific event, what remains constant is that these things are overwhelming to a child, and can be incredibly difficult to cope with and work through without therapeutic help. For this reason, it is important to recognize the effects of trauma in children sooner, rather than later. Here are some thoughts on how you recognize when kids are struggling with trauma…

Preschool age (and younger)

It’s important to take note that there is a profound difference between dealing with grief and trauma. When an event occurs that causes a child to grieve, they may be working through it in healthy ways. Trauma, on the other hand, usually shows worse symptoms. This dichotomy can be on display as early as preschool (and even younger). Children suffering from trauma in preschool may have an irrational fear of separation from their parents, or other loved ones. Refusing to eat and being dangerously overweight are also common signs of trauma, at this age. Oftentimes, trauma will manifest in nightmares around this age, as well.

Elementary school age

Kids in elementary school who are suffering from trauma will develop symptoms that are very similar to having an anxiety disorder. Because of this, constant fear and anxiety are major signs of trauma, as well as being overly sorry and continuously experiencing feelings of guilt. Kids in elementary school who are suffering from trauma may also show a difficulty in paying attention in class, and will have trouble maintaining their schoolwork. Effects of insomnia can start to show up around here, as well. It’s important to note that not any one of these is sure sign of trauma, but constantly noticing multiple of these signs may be an indicator.

Jr. high and high school age

Teenagers in jr. high and high school are at a precarious age, as they begin to develop the habits and mindset of adults. The hormones that are experienced at this age can mix poorly with mental disorders that the teenager might already have. Some signs of trauma in teenagers includes constant feelings of depression and isolation. Trauma can also manifest in behavioral issues, such as eating disorders or a tendency towards self-harm. Behavioral risk-taking can also increase, with signs being substance abuse and promiscuity.

Again, it’s important to note that none of these things specifically mean that a child is suffering from trauma. However, if you continuously notice many of these things, then it might mean that there is underlying trauma that the child is experiencing. If you think that a child might be suffering from trauma, don’t hesitate to call for help, today!

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