Symptoms and Behaviors Associated with Exposure to Trauma

Children suffering from traumatic stress symptoms generally have difficulty regulating their behaviors and emotions. They may be clingy and fearful of new situations, easily frightened, difficult to console, and/or aggressive and impulsive. They may also have difficulty sleeping, lose recently acquired developmental skills, and show regression in functioning and behavior.

Possible Reactions of Children 0-6 Exposed to Traumatic Stress

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Behavior Type

Children aged 0–2

Children aged 3–6

Cognitive

 

 

Demonstrate poor verbal skills

 

Exhibit memory problems

 

Have difficulties focusing or learning in school

 

Develop learning disabilities

 

Show poor skill development

 

Behavioral

 

 

Display excessive temper

Demand attention through both positive and negative behaviors

Exhibit regressive behaviors

Exhibit aggressive behaviors

Act out in social situations

 

Imitate the abusive/traumatic event

 

Are verbally abusive

 

Scream or cry excessively

 

Startle easily

Are unable to trust others or make friends

 

Believe they are to blame for the traumatic experience

 

Fear adults who remind them of the traumatic event

Fear being separated from parent/caregiver

Are anxious and fearful and avoidant

 

Show irritability, sadness, and anxiety

 

Act withdrawn

 

Lack self-confidence

 

Physiological

 

 

Have a poor appetite, low weight, and/or digestive problems

 

Experience stomachaches and headaches

 

Have poor sleep habits

Experience nightmares or sleep difficulties

Wet the bed or self after being toilet trained or exhibit other regressive behaviors