Caring for Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma

What is Child Traumatic Stress?

Trauma occurs when a child experiences an intense event that threatens or causes harm to his or her emotional and physical well-being.

Causes of trauma:

  • Exposure to a natural disaster
  • Witnessing or being the victim of violence, serious injury or physical or sexual abuse
  • Accidents or medical procedures

How might my child react?

Children may react in both physiological and psychological ways:

  • Heart rate may increase
  • May begin to sweat
  • May feel agitated and hyperalert
  • May feel “butterflies” in their stomach
  • May become emotionally upset

Is this normal?

Yes, although these reactions are distressing, they are normal. They’re our bodies way of protecting us and preparing us to confront danger. However, some children may have longer lasting reactions that can interfere with their physical and emotional health.

Behavioral Challenges of Traumatized Children

National Traumatic Stress Network

The Invisible Suitcase: Behavioral Challenges of Traumatized Children