What Is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma refers to a dangerous, violent, inappropriate, or scary event that affects a child’s development. Clinicians sometimes refer to these events as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Approximately 65% of children experience at least one traumatic event during their childhood, and around almost 40% of children experience two or more. In many cases, the number of ACEs a child has been exposed to places them at higher risk for developing physical and mental health problems later in life.
The following are the most common examples of childhood trauma that often result in mental health issues:
- Physical abuse
- Physical neglect
- Emotional abuse
- Emotional neglect
- Substance abuse in the home
- Sexual abuse
- Household mental illness
- Someone living in the home being incarcerated
- Witnessing parental violence
- Witnessing other violence
- Death of a close family member
- Being removed from the home
How Do Children React to Traumatic Events?
Child traumatic stress is a reaction to a traumatic event (ACE) that impacts a child’s daily life. Every child reacts to stress differently, but some common responses include:
- Behavior changes (becoming withdrawn, irritable, angry, or afraid)
- Acting out in school
- Behaving perfectly in school
- Changes in school performance
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep changes
- Reacting with disgust to other children
- Making inappropriate comments and gestures
- Feelings of helplessness
- Constant worry about others’ safety
- Being overly clingy
- Becoming detached when experiencing stress
- Feelings of guilty
- Being easily startled
- Fear and anxiety
Adolescent counseling programs are designed to help children with symptoms of a mental health disorder like trauma.
How Do Teens React to Trauma?
Experiencing childhood trauma often manifests itself later in a person’s life. Adolescence is complicated for everyone, but children who have experienced trauma can have more severe symptoms, such as:
- Severe depression and loneliness
- Inappropriate sexual activity
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Extreme risk-taking behavior
- Becoming withdrawn
- Feeling distracted
- Developing an eating disorders
Trauma Treatment at Remedy Therapy
If you are concerned that you or your loved one has experienced unresolved childhood trauma and mental health problems, Remedy Therapy now offers trauma therapy. Our Palm Beach Gardens therapists are available for in-person and telehealth services.
It is important to remember that not everyone who has experienced trauma shows these symptoms. Often the effects of childhood trauma and PTSD manifest themselves during adulthood. Keeping something a secret often makes it worse. Adults who experienced trauma during their childhood or adolescence are more likely to have substance abuse, depression, anger problems, and other mental health problems.
We cannot overstate the importance of talking to a therapist if you have trauma in your past; working through your issues with a therapist can have a tremendous impact on your relationship with your own children. At Remedy Therapy, we do not offer pediatric counseling, but we can recommend a therapist who does.
We specialize in the following types of therapy:
There is a common misconception among some parents that protecting children from every obstacle, sadness, and conflict will somehow prevent their child from becoming traumatized. Most stressful events in a child’s life are not traumatizing. Acknowledging your child’s feelings and helping them work through unpleasant experiences will encourage healthy emotional development and problem-solving skills.
A parent who believes that everyday events are traumatizing their child can damage their child’s self-worth, view of the world, and relationships with others. Of course, every child is different; something that upsets one child might not upset another. Different events and emotions will elicit different reactions from parents. There is no perfect way to respond to something your child says. Just do your best.
If you find yourself worrying about whether you’re doing a good job meeting your teenager’s emotional needs, you’re probably doing fine. But if you could use some extra help, contact us by calling 516.414.2607.