Childhood Trauma Guide

A Deeper Look At Trauma In Childhood
Written by Publishing Team

It is easy to say that one of the main priorities for mom is to make sure her children are happy, healthy and thriving. This means that she makes sure that they have nutritious food to eat, that they get out and play and that they participate in school. However, there is so much more that mom needs to pay attention to, and it can seem overwhelming at times. Mom needs to also care for her child’s mental health as much as their physical health, as neglect to do so can leave her child with long-lasting impacts that carry into adulthood.

While some things may be out of mom’s control, there are things she can do to make sure her child stays clear of traumatic events. In the even that her child does suffer through such event, there are also steps that she can take to make sure they get the help they need and that the impacts are minimal.

In order to make sure that mom can do this, we need to take a deeper look at trauma in childhood. We need to look at the causes, the signs and the ways in which mom can help.

RELATED: Generational Trauma: Recognizing It & Ending It Can Be Difficult, But Not Impossible

What Is Childhood Trauma?

According to Look Through Their Eyes, there are many events that can be classified as traumatic, and they are not always the obvious ones. Trauma is defined as the experience of an event by a child that is both emotionally painful and distressful. Since every child is different, this can be different for every child.

One of the most obvious causes of trauma is maltreatment by the hands of parents, caregivers and other important figures in their lives, but there may be some causes that are out of mom’s control that are a bit more hazy.

Trauma can also follow accidents, medical history, the death of a loved one, poverty induced stress, natural events and violence at school or in the community.

A recent example would be the children who find themselves living through a school shooting, these children would likely have some trauma that they would need addressed. Even something like the COVID-19 pandemic can cause trauma on a child, and have long-lasting impacts.

What Are The Signs Of Trauma?

It is normal for a child to be upset after a certain incident, but how can mom tell the difference between what is normal, and what is a trauma response?

According to Child Mind Institute, the biggest way to tell the difference between grief and trauma is how long the symptoms last. A trauma response will last months, and the symptoms will not decrease over time.

Mom will want to watch out for drastic changes in her child, their behavior and their energy level. Her child may have increased thoughts about death and be incredibly invested in their own personal safety. It may present as extreme anxiety. They will likely have trouble sleeping at night, trouble eating during the day and may be reaching out for more attention – and this typically happens by them “acting out.”

What mom really wants to look for are “triggers” that happen, moments when a child is fine and something happens (even something small), and her child has gone back to a traumatic state.

How To Help Traumatized Kids

If mom notices that her child is dealing with some trauma, the first thing she is going to want to do is try and help them. No parent likes to see their child in distress, and while they should seek out medical advice, there are some things they can do that can help at home.

According to Help Guide, the best thing you can do is to encourage your child to talk about how they are feeling. Getting them to open up can help, but you have to make sure you are coming from a place of unconditional support.

Reassure your child that they are safe, and that they are loved, even if it is the 30th time you have done so in the last hour. Children who have been through some traumas rely on stability and safety, and reassurance can provide them that.

When your child is focusing on the event, try and distract them with a new activity. Take them for a walk, go get ice cream or even a trip to the toy store can change the focus of their brain and take it off the event.

When To Seek Professional Help?

The truth is that mom should be seeking professional help as soon as the traumatic event happens, as quick treatment is the best way to make sure the children get the help they need and earlier intervention will often have the best results.

However, there may be instances when mom decides to hold off on introducing professionals, but there may come a time when they need to be called in.

According to APA, professionals can help your child work through their trauma with different treatments and therapies. They have special training that can help them make sure your child is getting the best help that they need.

As for when to seek help, if a trauma response is still occurring 6 to 8 weeks following the event, it may be the time to make the call.

If the trauma is interfering with your child’s life and impacting their ability to focus and work in school, play with their friends or do other activities that they need to, it is time to seek out the professionals.

If It Doesn’t Get Treated?

It is also important to know what can happen if a child does not get the treatment they need for their trauma.

According to Health Shots, if trauma is left unresolved it will carry into adulthood, and it will impact their life in the future. They will have trouble coping with home, with work and even the future families they have. It could impact their parenting with their own children, and it could place some of that trauma on your future grandchildren and impact who they become.

It can also lead them down the path to substance abuse issues, which have their own consequences.

Dealing with trauma is never going to be an easy thing to do, and no mom wants to see her child struggling with something, but there are resources out there to help.

Sources: Look Through Their Eyes, Child Mind Institute, Help Guide, APA, Health Shots

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Publishing Team