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When your Child or Teen Has Been Traumatized

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

startled Asian little boy
Are your children or adolescents frightened a lot?

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. Especially since the COVID-19 epidemic, children and adolescents are increasingly impacted by traumatic events.

What Traumatizes Children and Adolescents?

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

  • Traumatic loss (i.e., witnessing a loved one die or being removed from their lives)

  • Loving someone significant who is addicted to drugs or alcohol

  • Loving someone significant who has severe psychological or emotional difficulties

  • Harsh and ongoing criticism

  • Rejection by their friends or family members because of gender identification or sexual orientation.... and so on.

two male children bullying a little girl who is crying and traumatized
Bullying can have long-lasting traumatizing effects on children and teens

How does Trauma Affect Children and Adolescents?

When these things happen, kids' trust can be eroded.  They can suffer low self esteem, and can also develop some of these symptoms:

  • Anxiety and worrying

  • 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. I help children aged 12-17 years old resolve their traumas and get their lives back on track. This can be done through talk, play, or art therapy.

If you know a child or adolescent who could use my assistance and are in a legal position to get them help (you're their legal guardian, parent or caregiver), 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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