8 Side Effects of Childhood Trauma

24 Apr 8 Side Effects of Childhood Trauma

Children experience and respond to trauma in many ways. Regardless of the nature of the traumatic incident, its effects can have serious physical, mental and emotional implications on a child. Recognizing and understanding these effects can help caregivers support the child and seek appropriate help or treatment. Here are eight side effects of childhood trauma that, left unchecked, can have lasting consequences as they grow older.


By Teen Rehab


Children experience and respond to trauma in many ways. Here are some side effects of trauma that, when recognized and understood, can help caregivers provide the best support.

  • Physiological Stress

    By Teen Rehab

    A traumatized child may struggle with their immune and stress response systems as a result of being unable to cope with difficult situations. Sickness, stomach pain and migraines are not uncommon.

  • Poor Emotional Management

    By Teen Rehab

    Identifying, expressing and managing emotions is often difficult for children and teens who have experienced trauma. As a result, emotional responses can be internalized, unpredictable or explosive.

  • Attachment Issues

    By Teen Rehab

    Children who have experienced trauma often struggle to build healthy attachments to a caregiver. In turn, this affects their ability to trust others and understand their individual value.

  • Dissociation

    By Teen Rehab

    As a defense mechanism, children may separate themselves mentally from situations that are overwhelming. Outwardly, this may look like the child daydreaming or not paying attention.

  • Increased Engagement in Risky Behaviors

    By Teen Rehab

    Either as a way of coping or a result of early exposure to these behaviors, traumatized children are more likely to engage in risky activities such as drug use, unprotected sex and violence.

  • Difficulties with Cognition

    By Teen Rehab

    Children who have experienced trauma may have difficulties concentrating, presenting ideas, reasoning or problem solving. They may also struggle academically.

  • Low Sense of Self

    By Teen Rehab

    As a result of trauma, children often have a low self esteem or sense of value. They may also blame themselves for the traumas they experienced and carry a burden of guilt or shame.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    By Teen Rehab

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common effect of childhood trauma and can result in a recurring recollection of traumatic events and a reliving of resulting emotions.

Feature image Natalie Bowers

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