Parenting a child who has experienced trauma can be a difficult and challenging task. It’s important to understand that the child’s needs may differ from those of other children. Trauma can cause children to view the world differently, and they may react in unexpected or unfamiliar ways. Parents need to recognize these reactions as normal responses to an abnormal situation.
It is also vital for parents to understand the impact of early trauma on their child’s development. Children who have been adopted or placed in foster care may require additional support in order to manage the challenges from their past. Learning from experts about the effects of early trauma can help parents offer their children the best care possible. Parents should seek out resources such as counseling, support groups, and educational materials in order to better understand their child’s needs and how best to meet them. With patience, understanding, and love, parents can help their children heal from past traumas and move forward into a healthy future.
What is trauma?
Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event. It can be caused by a single event, such as a natural disaster, or it can result from ongoing experiences, such as abuse or neglect. Trauma in a child’s life can have long-term effects on their physical and mental health, and it’s important to recognize the signs of trauma to provide appropriate support.
Trauma can take many forms, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, or other traumatic events. It can also include experiencing discrimination or bullying due to race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Symptoms of trauma may include the following:
- Feeling of fear and helplessness can last for years after the event has passed.
- Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, and flashbacks
- Avoidance of activities that remind them of the traumatic experience
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling emotionally numb and feeling disconnected from others
If your child has experienced trauma, it is vital to seek help from a qualified mental health professional to process their emotions and learn healthy coping strategies.
What Are the Effects of Repeated Trauma on a Child?
Trauma can have a devastating effect on an individual, and the severity of its impact can be significantly increased when certain conditions are present. When trauma is experienced repeatedly, it can lead to the long-term psychological damage that can be difficult to overcome. This is because the cumulative effect of multiple traumas can cause a person to become overwhelmed and unable to cope with their emotions or environment.
The child’s age when they experience trauma also impacts how severe the effects will be. Younger children are more vulnerable due to their lack of life experience and coping skills, so they may find it harder to process traumatic events and move past them. Similarly, suppose a child lacks social support such as healthy personal relationships or language skills, intelligence, good health, and self-esteem. In that case, this can make it even more difficult for them to recover from trauma. In these cases, the effects of trauma may be more severe and long-lasting than if the child had access to adequate support systems.
How Does A Child’s Brain React to Trauma?
When a traumatic event occurs, the brain is hardwired to remember it. This is because the brain stores memories in a way that makes them easier to recall in the future. Memories of traumas are often composed of a complex blend of sensations, sounds, smells, and emotions. These triggers can rush into the present without a child realizing they are experiencing a memory from the past. The child may feel like the whole event is happening again, even if it happened years ago.
The body also remembers traumas in addition to memories. This means that physical reactions such as increased heart rate or sweating can occur when something reminds us of a traumatic experience. It’s essential for children who have experienced trauma to be aware of their triggers and how their body reacts so they can learn how to cope with these reactions and manage them better. With proper support and understanding, children can learn to recognize their triggers and develop strategies for addressing them to live healthier lives.
What are Triggers A Child Might Experience From the Trauma?
Triggers can be anything that causes a person to react in an unexpected or extreme way. They can be smells, sounds, places, postures, tones of voice, or even emotions. For instance, a child may develop anxiety about school due to experiencing home violence. This could lead to physical aggression or withdrawal when the child is faced with similar situations at school. Triggers can be hard to identify as they are often subtle and vary from person to person. Parents and teachers must be aware of potential triggers and how they may affect their children or students.
It is also important for parents and teachers to understand that triggers are not always easy to control. A child may be unable to avoid certain situations or people that cause distress. Adults need to provide support and understanding in these cases while helping the child learn coping strategies such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises. By being aware of potential triggers and providing support when needed, adults can help children manage their reactions healthily.
How Can Trauma Therapy Help Your Child?
Therapy can be a powerful tool for helping children who have experienced trauma. It provides an opportunity to safely share their feelings, tell their story, and get support from a professional. Therapy can give children the skills to cope with and reduce their anxiety after a traumatic experience. This makes it easier for them to talk about what happened and begin to process it in a healthy way.
In addition to providing emotional support, therapy helps children adjust their thoughts about the trauma. They learn to let go of any guilt or shame they may have felt about what happened and slowly start facing things they used to avoid. With the guidance of a therapist, children can gain insight into how their experiences have shaped them and develop strategies for managing difficult emotions in the future.
Seeing your child go through a traumatic experience can be heartbreaking. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this journey, and there is help available. With the proper support and understanding, your child can learn to cope with their triggers and manage their reactions. Therapy can provide an invaluable resource for helping your child heal from trauma and move forward with resilience.
Get Support From A New Heights Mental Health Counselor
At New Heights Counseling, our therapists understand the unique needs of children and families who have experienced trauma. We provide a safe, supportive environment for children to express their feelings and learn new coping strategies. Our counselors are dedicated to helping your child heal from the trauma they have experienced and build resilience for the future.
If you want more information about our services or to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us today at (850) 757-1552 or email us at New Heights Counseling.
Other Mental Health Services Offered at New Heights Counseling
New Heights Counselor offers therapy for many issues, not just trauma. We assist those who struggle with anger management, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, addiction, abuse, trauma, PTSD, self-esteem, confidence, body image, eating disorders, and many more. We want you to feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts and feelings with us so that we can better understand your needs and help you find healing and wholeness.
Our services are for children, adolescents, and adults, and we offer in-person sessions at our Fort Walton Beach, FL location and online therapy for the state of Florida. The office is on the 2nd floor of WorkSpace Suites at 1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 1057, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547. Get directions here on Google Maps or visit our office location page.
Appointment Schedule (Last appointment – 4 PM)
Monday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Evenings/Weekends by Appointment
- Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma – Childwelfare.gov
- Parenting After Trauma: Understanding Your Child’s Needs – HealthyChildren.org
- Welcome Video New Heights Counseling Founder & Clinical Director Colleen Wenner
About the Author:
Colleen Wenner is the founder and clinical director of New Heights Counseling, where she provides counseling services for individuals struggling with mental health issues. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Master Certified Addiction Professional. Colleen is a certified supervisor in Florida and an EMDR trauma-certified practitioner and consultant in training. Colleen is committed to providing excellent client care and services the Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville, Destin, and surrounding communities.
Colleen has consistently advocated for mental health wellness and has dedicated her entire life to promoting awareness among the public. She has been featured on various podcasts such as Practice of the Practice (The #1 Podcast for counselors in private practice), Shrink Think Podcast, and The Salty Christan Podcast, to name a few. She has contributed to several Yahoo Best Life, Unfinished Man, AskMen, UpJourney, WebMD, PsychCentral, and Emotional Intelligence Magazine articles. Colleen uses compassionate and authentic communication to help clients understand themselves better and feel more confident about their ability to improve their lives.