As a parent, it can be confusing figuring out if your child has experienced trauma. You want a clear idea of what it looks like for your child to have symptoms of trauma.
As a trained therapist who works with children and specializes in trauma, I have developed a simple list of potential trauma symptoms to look for when assessing your child.
Trauma is any event or circumstances that overwhelm your child’s ability to cope with the situation, leaving within your child the lingering sense of confusion, fear, and being overwhelmed from the trauma.
You as the parent know your child best. Together, using your knowledge and this checklist I developed, you can have a clearer understanding of if what you are seeing in your child is trauma.
1. Your child seems stuck in the past. This can look like:
- Thinking a lot about what happened to him/her
- Experiencing bad dreams or nightmares
- Has physical body responses (headache, racing heart, stomach ache) or gets upset at reminders of what happened
2. Your child is staying away from reminders
- Tries to stay away from people, places, or things associated with trauma
- Won’t talk about what happened and tries to push it from his/her mind
- Disinterest in usual activities or being with people he/she usually likes
- New fear of something, or increase in worry from previous fear
3. Your child seems jumpier and more anxious
- Startles easily- for example, jumps at sudden noise
- Since the trauma, seems more irritable and has angry outbursts
- Difficult time paying attention and concentrating since the trauma
- Experiences trouble falling or staying asleep
The symptoms of trauma can look different in each child, but if you are noticing any of these symptoms in your child, consider reaching out to a mental health professional to help you and your child
If trauma has occurred in your child’s life, the anxiety developed can be carried through into future relationships and vocations. Thankfully, the symptoms of trauma are treatable! Fear and anxiety can be reduced in the life of your child. Your child can be free from fear, returning to the important things in life- your kid being a kid!
– Alexandra Hoerr, MA, LCPC
Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
It’s hard work but research has shown that helping your child now, while their brain is still growing, will reduce risk of regression, increase quality in learning, and will pave the way for a hopeful future.
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