Child Traumatic Stress
What is child traumatic stress?
Child traumatic stress occurs when a child has had something very scary happen in their life and is having a hard time coping. Symptoms last longer than normal and may affect their daily life. No two children react to stress in the same way.
What causes it?
Children with child traumatic stress have had one or more traumatic events during their life. An accident or violence may have caused emotional or physical harm in some way. Even seeing something bad, can cause this kind of stress. Being in the hospital can be a traumatic event for a child. Children who have had a trauma in the past are more likely to have symptoms if they have another traumatic event.
What are the symptoms of child traumatic stress?
Children's reactions depend on a number of things. A child's age, personality and support people in their lives affect their response. Their ability to understand things, will affect how they move forward in daily life.
It may be normal for children to react after a traumatic event when they return to the same place or do the same thing again for the first time. In the case of a car crash, the first time they ride in a car again may be very stressful for them. Their heart may race, they may start to sweat or cry. This is a very normal first reaction to dealing with their fears and feelings. Some fears and feelings of distress stay for a longer time. They can include:
Strong and ongoing emotional upset.
Problems playing or talking with others.
Feeling very sad or numb.
Anxiety or irritability.
Difficulty paying attention or "spacing out".
Learning and school problems.
Fears of going to sleep, nightmares or night terrors.
Stomachaches, headaches or other body pain.