Trauma and Children
What is trauma? Often times, when we hear the word trauma, we think trauma with a capital T. Our mind goes to big traumatic events such as natural disasters, school shootings, violence and physical trauma. However, when we look at childhood trauma, we know that it can encompass more. Trauma is much more about how the child perceives the event than the actual event itself. An adult may not consider an event to be traumatic but a child could respond differently. Trauma can impact how a child views themselves and the world around them and can also impact emotions, behaviors, learning, and the ability to interact with others. The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC) defines trauma as “any experience that leaves a person feeling hopeless, helpless, fearing for their life/survival, their safety. This experience can be REAL or PERCEIVED.” An example of this could be a family who loses their home to a fire. The parents may be able to move forward by working with their insurance company and moving into a new home but the child may be stuck worrying about their toys and possessions they lost that were important and made them feel safe. Other examples of trauma may include: accidents, illness (self or family), bullying, separation or loss, divorce, abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence (even through the news, tv or movies, or video games).
So how do you know if your child is traumatized? A significant amount of children are exposed to traumatic events in the US, however, not all children are traumatized or react the same way. When a child has experienced trauma, it can be difficult for that child to verbalize their trauma experience so they might not be able to say that something is wrong. The best way to know if your child may be struggling with trauma is if you have noticed any change in behavior. You know your child best, and if there is something that worries you, ask for help. Possible symptoms of trauma include: flashbacks, changes in sleep, physical complaints, avoidance, detachment, hyper-vigilance, inattentiveness, irritability, anger outbursts, impulsiveness and difficulty concentrating. Unfortunately, these symptoms of trauma can look identical to symptoms of ADHD, therefore, it is important to be aware of trauma experiences.
How do you get your child help? The good news is the majority of children who experience a traumatic event are able to cope. However, if you feel your child is struggling following a trauma, reaching out for additional support can help. Trauma intervention is an essential part of helping your child. Here are some ways to find resources for your child:
- Search Psychology Today for therapists who specializes in trauma psychologytoday.com
- Meet with your school counselor and ask for tips and resources
- Make an appointment with your pediatrician
Upcoming Trauma Groups: I have two upcoming groups that will be beginning June 15th for children and teens who have experienced trauma. These groups will help children and teens of trauma process their difficult trauma experiences. Children are assisted in developing a sense of safety from their trauma and a sense of control over their reactions. We will engage in processes that help them cope with past traumas and develop resiliency. This trauma intervention program was developed by the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children.
I FEEL BETTER NOW! COPING WITH TRAUMA – Group Therapy for Children (ages 8-10)
I FEEL BETTER NOW! COPING WITH TRAUMA – Group Therapy for Teens (ages 12-14)
Dates: 6 week program dates – June 15th, June 22nd, June 29th, July 13th, July 20th, July 27th
Contact me today if you would like to register your child or teen for group. Deadline for registration is June 1st. Spots are limited.
***Blog disclaimer: This blog is for informational and educational purposes only. No therapist-client relationship arises. The information provided and any comments or opinions expressed are intended for general discussion and educational purposes only. They should not be relied upon for decision-making in any specific case. There is no substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional who could best evaluate and advise based on a careful evaluation. It is understood that no guarantee or warranty arises from the information provided or discussed on this blog.