Do You Know The Signs?

When someone experiences trauma, either first or secondhand, it can have major physical and emotional impacts. Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing and/or disturbing event experienced by a group or individual. The resulting effects can be different for everyone involved. This is why the most important thing anyone can do is to ask someone suffering from its impacts "how it makes them feel." By remaining neutral, it allows the person experiencing symptoms their ownership of the event. It shows them that how they feel is valid and how they remember it to have happened is just as important as what happened.

According to the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention, 26% of children in the United States will witness or experience some form of trauma before the age four. More than 60% of youth under the age of 17 have been exposed to crime, violence or abuse.

What causes trauma:

Accidents, Natural Disasters, Acts of Violence, All forms of Abuse, Bullying, Loss of a Loved One, Divorce, Mental Illness, Domestic Violence

Emotional Signs of Trauma:

Shock, Denial, Disbelief, Anger, Irritability, Mood Swings, Anxiety/Fear, Guilt, Shame, Self-Blame, Disconnection/Numbness

Physical Signs of Trauma:

Insomnia, Nightmares, Fatigue, Easily Startled, Difficulty Concentrating, Racing Heartbeat, Edginess, Agitation, Aches/Pains, Muscle Tension

Ages 1- 5 Years:

Wetting the Bed

Fear of being left alone

Separation anxiety/clinginess

Bad dreams

Disobedience or excessive tantrums

Excessive crying

Loss of skills (speech, toilet training)

Avoidance of eye or physical contact

Ages 6-12 Years:

Loss of appetite


Difficulty at school or concentrating

Withdrawal from friends

Tummy aches, headaches, or other complaints

Sexual knowledge beyond their age



Lack of confidence

Ages 13-17 Years:

High level of aggression

Problems at school

Drug/Alcohol abuse

Suicidal thoughts

Self harm, such as cutting

Poor self esteem


Inappropriate behavior (stealing, etc.)

Radical changes in attitude

What Can Parents Do?

When recognizing signs of stress in relation to trauma, parents should watch their child closely to see if their behavior patterns continue or progress. Providing a calming and physically comforting environment is important, as is providing the child with the attention they need. Express patience and tolerance, while also remaining the voice of structure in their life. Encourage interaction with family and friends, while also encouraging discussion about feelings surrounding the event. If you are unsure of how to help your child, call YouthZone today and arrange for a parent consultation to address your concerns and to find out how an assessment by a therapist may help your child.