Trauma and Your Child

The journey to adoption is riddled with traumatic events.  Understanding the behaviors that come with trauma, help us to parent therapeutically.

The journey to adoption is riddled with traumatic events. Understanding the behaviors that come with trauma, help us to parent therapeutically.

Trauma comes in many shapes and sizes…

* A single event that threatened the safety of your child or someone they cared about
* A natural disaster
* War
* Famine
* Medical crisis

To more systematic/repetitive/ongoing…

* sexual abuse
* physical abuse
* Neglect
* repeat hospitalizations
* multiple removals and placements in homes

Chronic illness, emergencies and hospital stays, can trigger significant anxiety for children.

Chronic illness, emergencies and hospital stays, can trigger significant anxiety for children.

How trauma affects a child, depends on many factors that include…

* Age at time of event
* Personality
* Sense of control over their circumstances
* Perceived, if not actual, sense of safety

The scope of behaviors that children can display due to trauma disorder…

* risky behaviors
* lack of emotional control
* night terrors/sleeplessness
* hypervigilance
* dissociation/spaciness

But Don’t take my word for it…here are some great resources so you can explore it for yourself. Knowing about the effects of trauma can help you recognize the source of distressing behaviors and respond in a way that promotes healing.

This is an article from a psychiatric journal describing Developmental Trauma Disorder

This is a link to the Trauma Center and its many publications on the topic

Here is a link to the National Child Trauma Center—lots of fantastic information to be found!

So this is a trauma informed behavioral health booklet for professionals. Its FREE and would make a great resource to give to your therapists if they are not familiar with Developmental Trauma Disorder

This is a report on complex trauma in foster kids—phew! Heady, but good.

Link to some really great books on trauma from the Trauma Center

Another good article on Traumatic Stress

Here is an EXTENSIVE resource list from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

And lastly…
If you feel led to facilitate a class to inform other parents on this important topic, here is a ready-made curriculum from the NCTSN…you’re welcome!


Holding Hands




Helping Your Child Heal From Trauma

What’s Happening

Trauma is an emotional response to an intense event that threatens or causes harm, either physical or emotional. Trauma can occur as a result of a natural disaster (such as an earthquake or flood), violence, or abuse. Seeing violence happen, even if you are not the victim, also may cause trauma.

Trauma can have a lasting effect on children’s brain development. If not addressed, it can lead to trouble with school, relationships, or drugs and alcohol.

What You Might Be Seeing

Children’s reactions to traumatic events vary with age, culture, and personality. Some children show the following signs of trauma:

  • Startling easily and having difficulty calming down
  • Behaviors common to younger children (e.g., thumb sucking, bed wetting, fear of the dark, clinging to caregivers)
  • Tantrums, aggression, or fighting
  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn, wanting to be left alone
  • Wanting to talk about the traumatic event all the time, or denying that it happened
  • Changes in eating or sleeping (sleeping all the time, not sleeping, nightmares)
  • Frequent headaches or stomachaches Remember: With patience and support,

    families can heal and recover from trauma.

    Acknowledgments: Safe Start Center, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (

What You Can Do

Try the following to help your child heal from trauma:

• Help your child feel safe. Stay calm and keep a regular routine for meals, play time, and bedtime. Prepare children in advance for any changes or new experiences.

• Encourage (don’t force) children to talk about their feelings. Tell children it is normal to have many feelings after a trauma. Listen to their stories, take their reactions seriously, correct any misinformation about the traumatic event, and reassure them that what happened was not their fault.

• Provide extra attention, comfort, and encouragement. Spending time together as a family may help children feel safe. Younger children may want extra hugs or cuddling. Follow their lead and be patient if they seem needy.

• Teach children to relax. Encourage them to practice slow breathing, listen to calming music, or say positive things (“That was scary, but I’m safe now”).

• Be aware of your own response to trauma. Parents’ history of trauma and feelings about their child’s experience can influence how they cope. Seek support if you need it.

• Remember that everyone heals differently from trauma. Respecting each child’s own course of recovery is important.

• Find help when needed. If your child’s problems last more than a few weeks, or if they get worse rather than better, ask for help. Find a mental health professional who knows proven strategies to help children cope with trauma.

(Copied from the


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s