As much as we would like to, we cannot completely shield our children from trauma. Whether it is disturbing event or a tragic loss, no one can completely avoid trauma. However, with the right tools, we can help children to healthily cope with their feelings of loss, fear, and sadness. At Kentlands Psychotherapy in Gaithersburg, our Licensed Clinical Social Workers have extensive experience helping children cope with trauma. If you are concerned that your child may be traumatized, we can help. Here are some indications that your child may be experiencing traumatic stress symptoms:
Focus on Death
One of the indications that a child may be traumatized is a preoccupation with death. This can manifest in a couple of different ways. Some children become very morbid and seem to be fascinated by death, while others will be preoccupied with their own safety and the safety of their loved ones. They may be constantly wracked with anxiety about hypothetical dangers, and be reluctant or even panicked to leave the house out of fear for their safety.
Disturbed Sleeping or Eating Patterns
A classic sign of trauma is if there is a change in their sleeping or eating patterns. They may be incapable of sleeping or sleep too much. They may have difficulty sleeping because they experience nightmares or cannot rest their anxious mind. They may also change their eating patterns by not eating or binge eating for comfort. This could be because they start experiencing stomach aches and other digestive issues and have lost their appetite. Regardless of how it manifests, if you notice changes in your child’s sleeping or eating patterns, pay attention.
Changes in Behavior
Your child may begin acting differently when they are traumatized. It is common for children (and some adults) to manifest their feelings through aggression as a defense mechanism. Your child may start getting in fights at school and develop a very quick temper. You may also see this manifest in extreme anxiety and paranoia. They may be very distrustful of others, cling to you, and startle easily. They could also respond by withdrawing from others and isolating themselves.
Difficulty With School
If your child is having difficulty focusing or learning in school, it may because of trauma. Children with traumatic stress symptoms often have difficulty concentrating and experience memory problems, which affects their grades. Additionally, particularly if the traumatic event is related to school, such as violence in the school or the loss of a classmate, your child may begin to avoid school if they are experiencing traumatic symptoms. Regardless of the reason, school avoidance is a clear indication that something is wrong, and must be addressed.
Signs of trauma may not begin to manifest until some time after the event, so it is important to continue to watch for signs even if your child seems to be fine initially. Keep the dialogue about the event open to make sure that your child feels comfortable approaching you about any disturbing symptoms of trauma that may appear.
At Kentlands Psychotherapy, we have child psychotherapists in Gaithersburg who can help. Contact us today 240-252-3349 to schedule an appointment.