Trauma can take many forms. There are many different causes of trauma and lots of different signs. Knowing the signs is especially important because there can be so much variation. The signs a person expresses can differ depending on their age, what they’ve experienced, and how they’re processing what has happened. By reviewing the ways that trauma symptoms may appear, we can better recognize them to help the people we serve.
According to the National Child Trauma Stress Network, signs of trauma can vary based on the child’s age. Signs of trauma can include:
1. In Children 1-5 years old
Very young children may have very loud or strong expressions of trauma, such as being aggressive, excessive screaming, crying, or seeking attention through positive or negative behavior. Other signs may be quieter but still troubling, like weight loss or loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or nightmares, generalized fear, or bedwetting.
2. In Children 6-11 years old
School-aged children may have some of the same signs as very young children, such as bedwetting, having nightmares, and showing aggressive or anxious behavior. These older children may also:
- Feel guilty about what happened
- Find it difficult to focus on school work
- Have repetitious play or words that re-tell the trauma
- Have headaches or stomachaches
- Try to cut or harm themselves
- Become verbally abusive
- Lack self-confidence
- Become withdrawn
3. In Teens and Young adults
Teenagers and young adults may have some of these signs:
- Emotional differences, such as feeling guilty or ashamed, angry depressed, having mood swings
- Aggressive, impulsive, or risky behavior
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Sudden changes in relationships
- Changes in eating or sleeping
- Difficulty with grades/participation in school
So how can you help your child?
Click here for links to educational information and professional help:
To learn more, you can visit this page from the National Child Trauma Stress Network: http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/parents-caregivers
The website provides lots of information and resources for professionals, educators, and families.