Trauma occurs when children experience an event or series of events that causes harm to their emotional or physical well-being.
Possible Traumatic Experiences:
- Being neglected
- Being seriously hurt
- Seeing a loved one be seriously hurt
Why Is Understanding Childhood Trauma Important?
- Children who have experienced trauma are often misunderstood.
- Trauma and adversity in early childhood can impact them later in life.
The Good News is help is available and you can support your child to be resilient.
- Be responsive to your child’s needs.
- Try to understand the message of your child’s behavior. What is your child communicating?
- Provide reassurance that adults can help keep children safe.
- Encourage your child to talk about his/her feelings.
Young children are always watching, listening, and learning. They absorb the feelings of adults around them.
Signs and Symptoms of Trauma
|Infants & Toddlers||Preschoolers|
|Problems eating||Avoid adults|
|Trouble sleeping||Anxious, clings to caregivers|
|Clingy/difficulty separating from parent||Helpless, passive|
|Fearful/Upset||Restless, impulsive, hyperactive|
|Language delay||Aggressive and/or sexually acting out behavior|
|Aggression||Repetitive play about the trauma|
|Loss of skill (e.g., stops walking even after the child is able to walk)||Poor peer relationships and social problems|
|Inattention, difficulty problem solving|
|Physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, etc.)|
Resource Type: Publication
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Last Updated: April 27, 2020