Children who live through trauma can struggle with the lasting effects for decades if they never receive support and treatment. When someone is young, they may not even understand that what they’re experiencing is wrong. In fact, being mistreated or living in an unstable household can feel “normal.”
However, the impact on their physical and emotional health is not easily shrugged off. Through their teenage years and adulthood, survivors of childhood trauma can suffer, whether they experienced one major traumatic event or were repeatedly exposed to trauma while they were young. Here are a few common effects of childhood trauma.
Children who have survived trauma trauma often have difficulty forming healthy relationships as they get older. This is because trauma can influence your attachment style. Childhood trauma can cause someone to develop a disorganized, anxious, or avoidant attachment style rather than a healthy, secure attachment style.
They may have trouble finding trustworthy friends, and as they enter their teenage years, they might chase after romantic partners who do not treat them well. Sometimes, this is a result of trying to replicate toxic relationship dynamics that they witnessed at home.
Difficulty Regulating Emotions
Childhood trauma can contribute to emotional regulation issues. A child who has been through trauma might not know how to express anger, disappointment, or sadness in a healthy, clear way. Instead, they might try to isolate themselves and suppress their emotions, which can result in outbursts down the road.
Alternatively, they might be prone to shouting or picking fights with their family and friends. Rather than being averse to conflict, they may try to start arguments simply because they don’t know how else to communicate.
Trauma can lead to behavioral problems in children. From fighting at home to acting out in school, many children who have experienced trauma are more prone to behavioral issues. As they get older, they may turn to substance abuse to alleviate the symptoms of trauma if they have never gotten treatment. These behavioral problems can start at a very young age and escalate as children get older. They can also contribute to academic issues at school.
Walking on Eggshells
Many children who have faced trauma feel like they need to walk on eggshells around everyone. They might push their own needs to the back burner and feel as though they can’t ask for help. Chances are, they didn’t get the support they needed, or their suffering was minimized. Therefore, they end up feeling as though they can’t depend on anyone, and that they need to make sure everyone else’s needs are met so that no one gets mad at them.
They tend to assume that problems are their own fault. They may even be used to taking the blame for things that went wrong within their households. Children who have lived through trauma may spend lots of time observing adults because they’re worried about being punished for upsetting someone or saying the wrong thing.
Trauma can get in the way of learning. This is because a child who has dealt with trauma is likely using up all of their internal resources for survival. They are just trying to keep their head above water, and they don’t have the time or energy for more. This can leave them struggling in school, and they can easily fall behind in their classes. They also might have trouble learning valuable life skills because trauma gets in the way.
Are you or your child struggling with the effects of childhood trauma? Working with a therapist can help you work past it. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling a session.