Children and Traumatic Life Experiences

It is difficult to think about traumatic experiences happening to our children. Unfortunately, negative and traumatic events do happen to children and their families. Often, people think that children may not remember the event, or those that do will “bounce back”, or even that children do not fully understand what has happened. In some cases, this may very well be true. However, children often absorb what they experience during traumatic events. Each child is different and may or may not exhibit signs of distress for an extended period of time or for as little/long as you might expect.

Children who have experienced a traumatic event and exhibit symptoms early after the experience tend to respond better to treatment. There are a number of complex emotions that children can be experiencing that are associated to the traumatic experience and how they may be coping.

child trauma

Some symptoms children may exhibit in response to trauma:

  • Irritable mood (more than usual)
  • Aggression
  • Food hoarding
  • Defecating and voiding in strange places
  • Nightmares and sleep disturbances

Other worries that children may express:

  • Children may avoid the area, person or objects that were part of the traumatic experience
  • May exhibit excessive concern and/or worry about the situation re-occurring
  • Children may also worry about their caregivers leaving the house or room and never returning or excessive worry about harm coming to their caregiver
Sarah Sharpe

About Sarah Sharpe

I'm a provisional Psychologist who works in Calgary, AB.

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