We usually disregard the significance of our formative experiences. We might also underestimate the impact childhood events have on who we are as adults. Our formative years determine who we are as people. It’s how we interpret the people, connections, feelings, and ideas in our lives. Trauma inflicted on children occurs more frequently than we might think. According to CDC studies, trauma is considered to have affected about 60% of Americans. When we are young, we are unable to fully realise what is taking place or how it can later cause trauma in us. But in reality, the possibility of a catastrophic event exists at all times. When we are adults, we can comprehend the possible impact it may have on us. We can also evaluate how a qualified therapist can assist us in resolving the issue. Let’s begin at the beginning to comprehend what childhood trauma is and how it might impact us.
What is childhood trauma?
Childhood trauma is when young children are exposed to upsetting or emotionally difficult situations. These can include incidents like actual or threatened death, severe injury, or sexual assault. Traumatic events can occur in childhood both when a child is exposed to them and when they directly affect them. Life or bodily safety is in jeopardy when a youngster has a traumatic encounter. This entails events that are frightful, dangerous, or violent. Some children may not have the chance to rehabilitate between traumatic events since their lives are marked by chronic stress and trauma almost continually.
The following are typical forms of childhood trauma in kids:
- A child being abused (abuse, neglect)
- Involvement with domestic violence
- Community bullying and violence
- Automobile collisions
- Natural catastrophes
Distress may be a result of these traumas. It is possible for mental health illnesses like PTSD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSS) to manifest.
Each person experiences childhood trauma differently. There are several typical symptoms and signals, nevertheless that both children and adults should be aware of. Children in preschool and elementary school:
- Separation phobia
- Increasing anxiety and panic, having trouble sleeping, and having more nightmares
- Weeping or acting out, losing weight, becoming grumpy
- Increased hostility and rage
Teenagers may exhibit all of the warning signs listed above as well as the following:
- Abandonment of social activities
- Academic difficulties
- I blame myself for the situation (guilt and shame)
- Difficulties concentrating, depression, eating problems, and other self-harming behaviours
- An increase in sexual behaviour and drug or alcohol usage
Observe the following emotional, physiological, and behavioural warning signs:
- Panic attacks
- Poor focus
- Sleep issues
- Ongoing medical disorders
- Long-term stress
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts
Can you stop or decrease the impact of trauma inflicted during childhood?
It is possible to prevent or decrease the effects of childhood trauma. The first step in helping your child recover from trauma is to offer support. You should seek out a mental health specialist who is trained to handle the trauma your child is experiencing and enrol them in therapy as soon as you can. In addition, family treatment is advised. Cognitive behavioural therapy with a focus on trauma is one type that involves the family. These classes can teach parents or other carers how to uplift and support their kids at home. It also teaches parents how to avoid placing blame, how to listen, and how to keep an eye out for symptoms that get worse.
Steps to manage childhood trauma
The effects of childhood trauma may seem irreversible. But if you take the right technique, you may overcome early trauma and create coping strategies.
- Recognize the trauma
The adult needs to acknowledge this specific childhood trauma. They are just beginning to realise that it’s okay for them to accept how the trauma has changed them. This will help them understand and give meaning to their current problems.
- Take care of yourself.
Self-criticism and remorse can be incredibly pervasive in individuals who had a horrible upbringing. Others may be curious as to why I am behaving in this manner. What’s wrong with me? This was a situation I could have handled better. These mental models may leave you feeling powerless and irritates.
In this case, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you weren’t at fault for what happened. You’re doing everything you can to heal from the scar your traumatic childhood experience left behind. Yet, as with other wounds, it’s imperative to give the wound ample time to heal correctly. Be gentle and loving to yourself. Consider yourself to be your closest friend.
- Try to help
You may rely on your loved ones to be understanding and supportive. In these circumstances, it’s critical to feel heard, understood, and acknowledged. Feeling alienated and alone is typical, especially when dealing with childhood trauma. Feeling as though no one will understand or sympathise with you is common. If we give others the chance, they have the ability to be tremendous sources of support for us. Contacting a mental health professional with experience in addressing trauma should not be undervalued. A therapist can help heal these severe scars and strengthen connections. They can improve your mental health and help you identify problematic coping techniques and habits.