Childhood trauma isn’t one-size-fits-all. It can be experienced in several ways and have numerous outcomes. When childhood trauma isn’t addressed, it can derail your entire life. Recognizing childhood trauma and how it impacts behavior can allow parents, caregivers, and social workers to help children get back on track.
How childhood trauma impacts behavior
When a child’s family does not provide a safe or comforting environment to them, they may find independent ways of coping. Trauma dramatically affects the way children understand their emotions. Unlike adults, children do not possess the emotional maturity to process the situation. Thus, they often develop behavioral and emotional problems as a result. There will be lots of times when a child will act out with disturbing behavior because they cannot verbalize their trauma. It’s important to remember that their behavior might be the only way they can tell their story.
These are just some of the signs of early childhood trauma in 3 to 6-year-old children:
- Having trouble learning or focusing in school
- Developing learning disabilities
- Demanding attention through positive and negative behaviors
- Acting verbally abusive
- Experiencing headaches and stomachaches
The reaction to childhood trauma often manifests through behavior. Consequently, traumatized children can act out and grow up to be traumatized adults.
It’s important to note that adults can still have reactions to childhood trauma if never treated. They may have abnormal reactions to stress, relationship problems, learning difficulties, tendencies to engage in risky behaviors like drug use, or chronic physical ailments.
The tie between childhood trauma and emotion
Just as childhood trauma and behavior are linked, childhood trauma often prompts emotional responses in survivors. Children who have experienced trauma may have trouble identifying, expressing, and managing their emotions. They may also internalize stress and bottle it all up, or they may externalize it by becoming verbally abusive in difficult situations.
It isn’t uncommon for children who have experienced trauma to be unpredictable or explosive in their emotions or behavior. This is because those who suffer from childhood trauma often struggle with self-regulation. This difficulty coping with their emotions will often impact their behavior, making it challenging to socialize or interact with others.
They may be detached, distant, defensive, volatile, unpredictable, and extreme. Traumatized children are highly likely to engage in high-risk behaviors like self-harm, unsafe sex, substance abuse, stealing, prostitution, etc. Without treatment, traumatized children are likely to enter the juvenile system at a young age. Finding the right type of support with both behavioral and emotional problems that stem from trauma can help alleviate these issues.
How Derek Clark can help
Looking for a professional and inspiring speaker for your conference, training, meeting, or special event? Derek Clark has personal experience navigating childhood trauma as he personally experienced it when he entered the foster care system in the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 5. He fought an uphill battle to turn his pain into purpose and recover from childhood trauma. He’s now a motivational speaker, trainer, and author so others can hear his story and apply what he’s learn to their own lives.
If you’re looking an inspiration virtual keynote speaker, consider reserving Derek Clark for your next event.