Identifying Trauma in Children

Identifying Trauma in Children can be challenging. This article defines trauma, highlights key issues surrounding trauma, and spearheads you in the direction to supporting your child through traumatic experiences.

There is nothing worse than finding out that your child might be traumatized. Trauma is considered, anything that can be characterized as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. There are three types of trauma: Acute, chronic, and, complex.


  • Acute trauma results from a single incident. This could be an incident where your child may have been sexually abused or was in a car accident. Even one bad incident, could leave a traumatized experience for your beloved child.


  • Chronic trauma is repeated and prolonged such as domestic violence or abuse.


  • Complex trauma is exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature. This would happen if someone has experienced domestic violence, been in a car accident, and has struggled with race-related trauma.


Because trauma is difficult to talk about, your child might not feel comfortable speaking with you about this.

Children who have experienced traumatic experiences often endorse the following symptoms:

  • Openly displays signs of fear
  • Clings to parents or caregivers when reminded of their traumatic experience
  • Cries, screams, or whimpers (especially if they cannot talk, have difficulty communicating, or think they will get in trouble)
  • Return to behaviors common to being younger, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting
  • Have flashbacks to the event, nightmares, or other sleep problems
  • Use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Become disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive
  • Have physical complaints
  • Feels isolated, guilty, or depressed
  • Loses interest in hobbies
  • Loses interest in friends, family, and fun activities
  • Have nightmares or other sleep problems
  • Become irritable, disruptive, or angry
  • Struggle with school and homework
  • Regular Complaints of physical problems
  • Develop unfounded fears

Here are some things parents can do to help their traumatized child:

  1. Reduce their exposure to media contents
  2. Engage your child with interactive activities and devote more quality time to him/her.
  3. Offer your child validation and support
  4. Resist the urge to take your anger about the fact that your child experienced trauma, out on your child as children internalize these messages and may feel responsible.
  5. Do not blame your child for the trauma that has happened to him or her
  6. Listen to your child in an unbiased way.
  7. Encourage participation in physical activity; it helps take their mind off of lingering thoughts.
  8. Feed your child a healthy and nourishing diet.
  9. Commit to rebuilding their trust and make them feel safe.


From one parent to another, having a child suffer from traumatic experience is extremely stressful for you, your child, and all of your loved ones. If you think that your child might be suffering from a traumatic experience,


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