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Pediatric Trauma

Trauma can affect children of all ages (from infancy through adolescence). The effects of trauma are diverse and often depend on the age of the child and type of trauma.

The following are several types of trauma: serious Illness, accident, fires, and injury; physical, sexual and emotional abuse; witnessing violence in the home, school or community; victim of crime; bullying/cyberbullying; loss of a loved one; combat injury of a loved one, living in or escaping from a war zone, or act of terrorism; natural disaster; and neglect, homelessness.

How does trauma affect children?

Read the scenarios below to learn more about the effect of trauma on children.

“I’m two years old. Sometimes I’m whiny when I want something and other times I throw temper tantrums. The adults around me say I’m bad, but I don’t know what to do with all these big feelings I have inside me. I get so scared when my parents yell and throw things and sometimes they hit each other. I cry and I hide and I don’t feel safe.”

“I’m five years old. My mom always asks me “What’s wrong?” because she says I never smile anymore. But I don’t answer her. I keep all my feelings locked up inside me in a special place where no one can see them and they can’t hurt me. I put them there when my sister died.”

“I’m 12 years old. Most of the time I’m OK. That is, until I have to get into a car or on a bus. Then, my heart starts beating out of my chest. My hands and feet start to prickle. I don’t feel safe anymore no matter whose driving. It all started when I was riding in the back seat with my sister and a drunk driver smashed into us out of nowhere.”

“I’m 17 years old. I don’t ever let anyone know how I feel. A smile on my face, but man, watch out- ‘cause say the wrong thing and I’ll explode. I ditch school to go drink and smoke. My foster mom and caseworker nag me, but who cares? I don’t want to feel the pain anymore of my mom’s boyfriend sexually abusing me … of my mom choosing him over me.”

Children who have experienced trauma need trauma-focused therapy. The Cullen Center’s therapists are experts in trauma-focused therapy. Learn more about trauma-focused-therapy.