How Trauma Can Impact a Child Later in Life

Trauma can impact a child’s life in many ways, including their relationships and experiences throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Each child will experience different effects depending on the type of trauma experienced. For example, a child who experiences neglect will have a hard time forming attachment and relationships later in life whereas a child who is sexually abused will have a hard time trusting adults and can develop commitment and body image issues. A person who experiences any type of  trauma during childhood is also at risk of having severe health problems as they get older, including diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung problems.


Image Martin Novak

Children who experience trauma also have a hard time dealing with emotions and have trouble managing some behaviors. The inability to deal with emotions can leave a person lonely and unable to maintain relationships, according to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) People, places, images, smells, and sounds can all trigger negative emotions in a trauma victim, and these triggers will continue to go off unless their fears are confronted.

There are similar behaviors that children who’ve experienced traumatic events develop, according to the American Psychological Association. Some signs to look for include:

  • Development of new fears
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nightmares
  • Separation anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Decline in schoolwork
  • Poor concentration
  • Anger
  • Irritability

If you are concerned your child has experienced a traumatic event, try to talk to them about it. You may also want to involve a doctor or therapist (or even the police, depending on the situation) to discuss ways to move forward and get the help that your child needs.

Featured image Monkey Business Images