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Trauma and PTSD in Young Children

By February 24, 2017November 13th, 2018Child Therapy, Dr. Samantha Winton

Trauma in children can be a number of things. It can be medical trauma, such as undergoing numerous medical procedures. Trauma can be surviving a car crash. Trauma can be experiencing neglect, bullying, and abuse. Most trauma occurs to about 40% of children in the United States. That’s a lot. And chances are, the percentage is even higher.

Oftentimes, children do not talk about their trauma, out of shame or fear. So, how do you know your child experienced a trauma and is struggling to deal with it?

trauma in young children

Below is a list of symptoms that can arise in someone struggling with a trauma:

  • Feeling “jumpy” or on edge
  • Being hypervigilant: always on the lookout for danger
  • Frequent Nightmares
  • Flashbacks: This is when memories of the trauma “flash” before your eyes, and they are beyond your control.
  • Re-experiencing the event: having the fear and emotions take over as if you were back in the situation.
  • Feeling numb
  • Avoiding situations, places, or people that remind you of the trauma. Disengaging from others. Not having interest in typical activities.
  • Increased irritability and anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Young children (typically 6 and under) may also exhibit some of the following:

  • They may “regress.” This means they may start acting like a child younger than themselves. They may start wetting the bed or speaking differently.
  • Young children might become very “clingy” to you, not wanting you to leave, always searching for you in a room, not wanting to be alone.

How Can We Help?

We can provide therapy that has been found to be highly effective for children that have experienced a trauma. It is called Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or TF-CBT for short. We will help your child learn skills to manage their symptoms and find ways to be a joyful child again. We will also help you, as the parent, learn how to cope with the knowledge that your child has experienced a trauma and how to best support yourself and your child.

If your child has said something about experiencing a trauma, the best thing you can do is to take them seriously. Please call and schedule an appointment today.

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Dr. Winton is the owner and clinical director at Integrated Care Clinic. She is a licensed psychologist that specializes in eating disorders, body dysmorphia, food anxiety, body image, intuitive eating, and perfectionism.

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