Helping Trauma Kids Heal

There are many different kinds trauma that kids can experience; it can be bullying, community violence, disasters, domestic violence, medical trauma, abuse or neglect.  Any kind of trauma can have long lasting and very serious effects on kids.  A lot of the behaviors that we see in foster care are the result of trauma but unless you are trauma informed you think it is just bad behavior.  

Children ages 0-3 can exhibit behaviors such as eating disturbances, sleep disturbances, separation anxiety, difficult to soothe, developmental regression, easily startled, language dealt, aggressive behavior and even sexualized behaviors.  This is difficult on the caregiver but can you just imagine how difficult it is for the child.  They have no idea why they act the way they do and they do not really have the capacity to control it.

Children ages 3-6 show behaviors very similar to the younger age group but also exhibit behaviors such as avoidance, low frustration, general fearfulness, restless, impulsive, hyperactive, physical symptoms, difficulty identifying what is bothering them, inattention, difficulty with problem solving, loss of developmental achievements, talking about the traumatic event and reacting to triggers, sadness, depression, poor peer relationships and other social problems. Wow, that is a lot for a little kids to have to endure! Can you just try to imagine for a moment how that child feels about their behavior - they want to please you and just can't seem to control the behaviors.

Complex Trauma is even more frightening in its effects on our precious kiddos. Complex trauma tends to affect all domains of a child's development and functioning. Below I will chart the Domain of Development and the Signs of Disruption or Impairment

Attachment - 
  1. difficulty trusting others
  2. uncertain about reliability/predictability of others
  3. interpersonal difficulty
  4. social isolation
  5. difficulty seeking help
  6. clingy, difficulty with separation

Physical -
  1. sensorimotor development problems
  2. hypersensitivity to physical contact
  3. somatization
  4. increased medical problems
  5. problems with coordination and balance

Affect Regulation -
  1. problems with emotional regulation
  2. easily upset and/or difficulty calming
  3. difficulty describing emotions and internal experiences
  4. difficulty knowing and describing internal states
  5. problems with communicating needs

Behavioral Control -
  1. poor impulse control
  2. self-destructive behavior
  3. aggressive behavior
  4. oppositional behavior
  5. excessive compliance
  6. sleep disturbance
  7. eating disorder
  8. reenactment of traumatic event/past
  9. pathological self-soothing practices

Cognition -
  1. difficulty paying attention
  2. lack of sustained curiosity
  3. problems processing information
  4. problems focusing on/completing tasks
  5. difficulty planning and anticipating consequences
  6. learning difficulties/developmental delays
  7. problems with language development

Self-Concept - 
  1. lack of continuous/predictable sense of self
  2. poor sense of separateness
  3. disturbance of body image
  4. low self-esteem
  5. shame and guilt

Can you see how these issues would make life so much more difficult for these children? In foster care and in our school systems, there needs to be more training on these issues along with what to do when you recognize these behaviors. Early recognition and intervention is so important to best outcome for our kiddos experiencing these issue as the result of any type of trauma. Families and school personnel need to be taught how support the child and what strategies will be most beneficial to their improvement. Families will need to work with Pediatric developmental and behavioral health teams to make sure the correct therapies, supports and medication if needed are in place.

We need to fight for these kiddos. We have a home full of trauma kiddos and we live every day through behaviors, therapies, doctor appointments, social worker appointments, psychiatrist appointments, medication management appointments and school appointments - hint these kiddos usually need IEPs or at the very least 504 plans in school.

We have found some non-traditional ways of helping our kiddos and we would love to share that with you, if you are open to it. If not, that is okay too, we can just be part of your support system. Email me at for information on what we have found helpful with our kiddos.

Let's help our special kiddos, who never asked for the trauma, abuse or neglect to become the very best they can be.

Be blessed and be a blessing -

the Naturopathic Mama

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