Does your child exhibit signs of depression or trauma? Do you feel some even may have triggered her trauma? Has she witnessed something that left a hugely negative impact on her? If these questions have you nodding along in solemn agreement, its time you read our post. Here we take a bird’s eye view at childhood trauma.
What Is Childhood Trauma:
Early childhood trauma describes the difficult and traumatic experiences that a child may experience during the ages of zero and six. Children over the age of six can also face trauma. Children younger than six aren’t able to express themselves well, and they can’t express hurt, worries, fears and other experiences. It means that they often bottle these feelings up, which can continue to bother them and cause major illnesses later on in life.
It is wrong to assume that young children are too small to feel a trauma. Most people feel that children, especially those under the age of six, are too young to feel strongly about events.
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Causes Of Childhood Trauma:
Almost all researchers agree that children who witness some or the other trauma before the age of six will have depression or anxiety in their later years. In most cases, childhood trauma is also the main cause of various psychological and emotional illnesses. In case the trauma is severe, it can also cause some major changes in her brain function, often causing mental stress and mental illness.
Childhood trauma can be of many different kinds, and here is a quick look at some of the causes of trauma in children:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse.
- Verbal abuse.
- Any incident or act that makes her feel worthless.
- Ridiculing the child repeatedly in front of others.
- Shaming the child repeatedly in front of others.
- Any act, person or incident by which the child feels unsafe and threatened.
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- Any act, person or incident that makes the child feel unloved.
- If the child is made to feel dependent on others and hence has a very low self-impression of himself.
- Childhood trauma can also be a result of intentional violence, such as physical or sexual violence.
- It can be a result of domestic violence, such as witnessing violence towards one member of the family by another.
- It can also be the result of an emotional trauma, such as the separation of parents at an early age or the death of a close member of the family or immediate circle.
- Trauma can also occur as a result of natural calamities like earthquakes, floods, fire, etc.
According to various researchers, children as young as infants can also experience trauma. They can often be affected by any event or person that makes them feel threatened and unsafe. In most cases, such trauma is inflicted by the child’s parents, caregiver, immediate family or even siblings.
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The Effects Of Childhood Trauma:
Childhood trauma can have a lasting effect on your child’s psyche. It can completely break her sense of security and safety. Simple and everyday things, like loud noises, any violence depicted in a movie or a game setting, or any other unpredictable event can trigger a reaction. When she is especially young, she will be more vulnerable to be affected by trauma. Also, the way a younger child will interpret something may be quite different from the way an older child may interpret it. For instance, a two-year-old child who witnesses domestic violence at home will feel differently about than a five-year-old, who will also feel different about it than a ten-year-old, etc.
When a child is younger, the brain is still at a developing stage. It means that if a younger child witnesses any trauma, the effects can harm the brain in such a way that it can stunt her future development.
Symptoms Of Childhood Trauma:
In children of the age of two years, the following symptoms of trauma in children:
- Poor verbal skills.
- Memory problems, difficult to remember or recall things.
- Having extremes in terms of temper.
- Need constant attention in both a positive and a negative way.
- Show regressive behavior.
- Become suddenly aggressive.
- Start crying or screaming without any apparent reason.
- Get startled easily.
- May be afraid of those adults or situations that remind them of the trauma.
- Are always scared to be separated from their parents or main caregiver.
- Are mostly irritable, anxious or scared.
- May be withdrawn.
- Do not want to eat and may be losing weight.
- Poor sleep.
- Have nightmares or do not want to go to sleep at all.
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In children between the ages of three and six years, the following symptoms may be an indication of childhood trauma:
- Difficulties in concentrating or having problems at school.
- Learning disabilities.
- Poor skill development.
- Excessive temper fluctuations.
- Demand attention all the time.
- Show regressive behavior.
- Becoming aggressive.
- Act difficult in social settings.
- Try to imitate the trauma or the event that led up to it.
- May use verbal abuse.
- Get startled easily.
- Are not able to trust people or have difficulty in making and keeping friends.
- Feel that they are the ones who are to be blamed for the traumatic event.
- Are always scared of being separated from their parents or main caregiver.
- Are always fearful and avoid situations that make them uncomfortable.
- Are sad, anxious and moody.
- Do not want to associate with others.
- Have low self-confidence.
- Often complain of headaches or stomach aches.
- Have difficulty in sleeping, nightmares, wet the bed.
If you notice any of the above in your child, speak to your child’s doctor about it to assess if there is a need for professional counseling.
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Treating Trauma In Children:
If your child suffers from trauma, you can consider some of the treatments for her, which include:
- Learn how to regulate strong emotions.
- Process trauma-related memories and feelings.
- Discharge pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy.
- Build or rebuild the ability to trust people.
Do you know someone who experienced trauma in the childhood and came out of it? Do talk about it here.
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