Certain behavioral changes may be observed in children who have witnessed or been victims of violence (although some of the behaviors may also be in response to other “normal” developmental issues). If the child is exhibiting any of these behaviors in a sudden, intense, unrelenting fashion, gather as much information as possible about the child and his circumstances to determine the source of the behaviors and the best course of action. Your program’s screening and ongoing assessments of children are important sources of information.
Common Behavior Changes
According to Honig (1993), children who have experienced violence may show its effects in any of the following ways–
- Crying frequently or constantly
- Wanting to be held constantly or stiffening when held
- Exhibiting aggressive behavior (i.e., hitting, biting, or kicking
- Sleeping irregularities (i.e., trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, nightmares)
- Showing changes in developmental functioning (i.e., toileting practices)
- Expressing fear or worry about being safe
- Withdrawing from social interaction
- Eating irregularities
- Exhibiting psychosomatic symptoms (i.e., headaches, stomachaches)
- Having lowered self-esteem
- Having difficulty in paying attention
- Being depressed
Honig, A.S. 1993. Mental health for babies: What do theory and research teach us? Young Children.