Child Traumatic Stress
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, trauma most often follows an event that is scary, threatening, dangerous, or violent. The scary and often overwhelming event is also known as a traumatic experience. The individual can experience the event directly, or they may witness something bad happening to a loved one. Normally, these events include experiencing an injury or some type of physical harm.
What Is Child Traumatic Stress?
When children experience a traumatic event, they can react in both physical and psychological ways. Although these reactions can be troubling, they are completely normal. Similar to anxiety, these reactions are how our bodies let us know something is not right. A reaction that is long-lasting or interfering with a child’s well-being may be a sign of child traumatic stress.
Child traumatic stress often occurs in children who have had multiple traumatic experiences. Their reactions to these experiences can be persistent and often include:
- Intense fear or sadness
- Changes in behavior
- Difficulty paying attention
- Academic challenges
- Disrupted sleep or difficulty falling asleep
- Loss of appetite
- Physical aches and pains
- Avoidance of objects, places, or other reminders associated with the traumatic event(s)
How can I tell whether my child is having a typical response or experiencing traumatic stress?
Not all children who experience a traumatic event will develop child traumatic stress. Children dealing with anxiety may have heightened fear or worry around a traumatic event. The reaction to a traumatic situation varies from child to child and often depends on their developmental level. If you believe your child may be dealing with traumatic stress, it is important to contact a mental health or healthcare provider who can help.
Visit http://www.nctsnet.org/ for more information.
Sometimes a traumatic experience can affect the entire family. Learn more about family trauma at https://nfrc.ucla.edu/about-family-trauma