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  • Writer's pictureAsia Hardin

How Childhood Trauma Shows Up In Adulthood 



Our childhood is a crucial time for development.


When traumatic events occur during this period, that extreme stress can have an extreme impact on children.


Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are traumatic events that occur in childhood and adolescence. 


There are various forms of childhood trauma, from bullying, to violence within the community, to complex trauma, disaster, and even intimate partner violence.


The list even includes medical trauma, sexual abuse, traumatic grief, physical abuse, refugee trauma, and exposure to violence. 




Everyone’s response to trauma is unique, though. Not everyone who will necessarily develop a stress disorder.


But those children who do face ACEs may display the following symptoms:


 Preschool Children

§  Feel helpless 

§  Ask questions about death

§  Develop new fears

§  Eat poorly and lose weight 

§  Crying or screaming a lot

§  Cry when being separated from their parents

§  Needing to know about their parent's whereabouts

§  Worried about the other person's safety 

§  Experiencing numbness 

§  Recreating the trauma through play


Elementary age  

§  Feel guilt or shame

§  Become Clingy 

§  Become upset over small things 

§  Difficulty Concentrating 

§  Worry about others or their own safety 


 Middle and High school 

§  Feeling depressed and alone

§  Using substance abuse

§  Develop eating disorders or self-harming behaviors 

§  Risk-taking 

§  Feels like they're going crazy 

§  Sleep disturbances



When childhood trauma isn’t resolved, it can manifest in adulthood as individuals exhibit behavioral issues or emotional immaturity.


It may also result in the development of an anxiety or a personality disorder, substance misuse, or the inability to deal with confrontation or conflict. 


So how can we provide support to children who have experienced trauma? 

·       Ensuring that they feel safe and supported 

·       Letting the child express their sadness

·       Helping them maintain control

·       Talking and discussing those big feelings when the child is ready 


When children are exposed to adverse and stressful experiences, it can have a long-lasting impact on their ability to think, interact with others and on their learning.


Taking these steps and helping children facing ACEs to seek out therapy during childhood is ideal.


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