• Lisa S. Larsen, PsyD

When your child or teen has been through trauma

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Kids Need Help with Trauma Too! Adults can forget how hard life can be for children and adolescents. We got through our own childhoods as best we could, but we might have fared better with difficult situations if we'd had help.  When something traumatic happens to a child or adolescent, they don't have the same resources that adults have. 

I have worked with many young trauma survivors. Many have been referred from Child and Family Services. Quite often these young survivors blame themselves, feel shame, and believe they have to be "strong" for the family, which can lead to problems later on. Some of the things that can be traumatic for kids includes:

  • Complicated divorces (where there is much anger and volatility in the home and the child may be placed in the middle)

  • Surviving a disaster (e.g., hurricanes, fires, floods, car wrecks, burglaries)

  • Seeing someone they care about being physically or sexually abused, like family members

  • Physical violence or corporal punishment

  • School bullying and harsh teasing

  • Rape and sexual assault

  • Neglect or abandonment

  • Loving someone significant who is addicted to drugs or alcohol

  • Loving someone significant who has severe psychological or emotional difficulties

  • Harsh and ongoing criticism.... and so on.

When these things happen, kids' trust can be eroded.  They can suffer low self esteem, and can also develop some of these symptoms: Trusting people too easily or withdrawing from even safe, familiar people in their lives

  • Getting into fights easily

  • Disorganized behavior -- they lack focus and purpose in their actions

  • Acting out their aggression on other people or on pets or animals

  • Withdrawal from peers and adults

  • Wetting or soiling themselves in inappropriate places (like the bed, in their clothes)

  • Acting like they did they were much younger (and perhaps more closely cared for)Becoming anxious and upset when away from caregivers or family members

  • Nightmares and night terrors

  • School problems

  • Self-mutilation (cutting, burning, etc.)Reckless behavior and risk-taking -- putting themselves in dangerous situations to see if someone will rescue them from themselves

  • Risky sexual behavior

  • Drug and alcohol use

  • Problems with eating -- under-eating or over-eating to cope with the pain... and more.

In providing a safe, nurturing environment in which to express their feelings about the traumatic events -- whether through talk, play, art, or sandplay, I help children aged 6-17 years old resolve their traumas and get their lives back on track. If you know a child or adolescent who could use my assistance and are in a legal position to get them help, please call me at 661-233-6771. Let's make sure the next generation of people has less reason to be upset, worried and depressed.

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