Watching for signs of trauma in your child

No child – or adult – should experience a traumatic experience or its aftermath alone.

A beloved grandma may have passed. For most children, that may unleash an understandable grieving period.

If a classmate dies, though, at almost any youthful age, your child might not only lose a dear friend but also a sense of invincibility. And we hear more and more about the horrors children see and experience everyday. It’s an obligation to be aware of the signs of trauma.

We list just four signs from the Child Mind Institute, which has an entire section of its website on identifying and working with grief and trauma:

  • A “hyper-focus on mortality or death.” And while some kids become notably morbid and fascinated by death, others will develop an obsession with their own safety and the safety of those close to them.
  • Problems with sleeping, eating, anger, and attention. Some symptoms of trauma in children (and adults) closely mimic depression, including too much or too little sleep, loss of appetite or overeating, unexplained irritability and anger, and problems focusing on projects, school work, and conversation.
  • Triggers. A year after a tragic event, we tend to look back, take stock, and memorialize those whose lives were lost. But anniversaries could have unexpected consequences — the birthdays of friends or classmates who died, for instance.
  • School refusal. When an event is connected to school, such as the loss of classmates or violence at school itself, an unhealthy reaction could take the form of avoiding school.
Mental Wellness
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