5 Signs of Childhood Trauma Parents Need To Know About

Children, Kaitlyn Johnson, Trauma

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child from harm. But sometimes, the things that happen to them are out of your control. Childhood trauma is a very real problem that can have lasting effects on your child’s health and well-being. 

Here are 5 signs of childhood trauma that every parent needs to know about.

1. Changes in Sleeping or Eating Habits

Everyone’s eating habits change over time, but for some children those changes can be a sign of trauma or other deeper issues. It is important for parents to be aware of their child’s habits and behavior, noticing if anything needs further attention. 

If your child seems to be having difficulty eating, a visit to a doctor or therapist can help provide the best advice and support to ensure your child is getting the necessary care they need. Even small changes in these habits, such as an increase in snacking late at night, can alert us to potential childhood trauma.

2. Withdrawal From Friends or Activities

Withdrawal from friends and activities is a common reaction to childhood trauma. This can come in the form of avoiding people, withdrawing from friends and classmates, or slipping away into isolation. 

While this understandable response may feel like an escape route for a child that has experienced grief or challenges growing up, it’s important for parents to recognize and address these feelings. Not only can addressing trauma help children start feeling more confident and secure in themselves, but it will also support them in having strong relationships with the people around them. 

Seeking out mental health professionals, counselors, and other resources could be a valuable step towards aiding children who have experienced trauma.

3. Persistant Nightmares or Night Terrors

Persistent nightmares or night terrors can be some of the most frightening experiences of childhood. Young children who find themselves caught in a recurring bad dream often feel real terror and helplessness as they try to shake off the experience. 

In cases where childhood trauma is at play, it is especially important for parents to be understanding and supportive as their child tries to manage their nightmares or night terrors. 

Sympathetic listening, gentle comfort, and developing an understanding-based relationship with your child around these issues can all be crucial ways to help them manage their fears better while working through the underlying problem.

4. Excessive Fearfulness or Anxiety

Excessive fear or anxiousness can be a difficult challenge for parents to understand and handle when faced with their anxious child. The underlying cause of such fear and anxiety may vary depending on the child, but it may also be linked to past trauma. 

Parents struggling with an anxious child should reach out to professionals for advice in order to help their child through these challenging times. There are available psychological therapies that have been found to be helpful in calming anxious children, helping them manage their fears and move forward in life in a more positive manner.

5. Acting Out Through Agression or Defiance

It is not uncommon for school-aged children to act out through aggressive or defiant behavior. While it can be hard for parents to manage, it’s important to remember that these behaviors are often rooted in trauma or underlying emotional issues. 

Working with school personnel and mental health professionals can be essential in helping children effectively process and express what they’re feeling. Parents can also take the time to learn about possible trauma triggers and how best to respond so their child feels safe, supported, and secure.

A traumatic event can have a lasting impact on children. If you notice changes in your child’s behavior, it may be a sign that they are struggling to cope. But, with the right care, your child will be able to process their trauma and begin to heal.


If your child is struggling with any of these signs, reach out to us and schedule an appointment today.