Children and Adolescents Experience Stress, Too!

Adults can forget how hard life can be for children and adolescents. We got through our own childhoods as best we could, but we might have fared better with difficult situations if we'd had help. When something traumatic happens to a child or adolescent, they don't have the same resources that adults have. Caring adults can help, but sometimes they are too close to the situation to have the patience and perspective to guide young people through these trying times. I have worked with many young trauma survivors. Quite often, young survivors of traumatic stress blame themselves, feel shame, and believe they have to be "strong" for the family, which can lead to problems later on. Some of the things that can be traumatic for kids includes:
  • Complicated divorces (where there is much anger and volatility in the home and the child may be placed in the middle)
  • Surviving a disaster (e.g., hurricanes, fires, floods, car wrecks, burglaries)
  • Seeing someone they care about being physically or sexually abused, like family members
  • Physical violence or harsh corporal punishment
  • School bullying and harsh teasing
  • Rape, incest and sexual assault
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Loving someone significant who is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • Caring about someone who has severe psychological difficulties or substance abuse
  • Harsh and ongoing criticism.... and so on.

When these things happen, kids' trust can be eroded. They can suffer low self esteem, and can also develop some of these symptoms:
  • Trusting people too easily or withdrawing from even safe, familiar people in their lives
  • Getting into fights easily
  • Lacking focus and purpose in their actions
  • Withdrawal from peers and adults
  • Wetting or soiling themselves in inappropriate places (like the bed, in their clothes)
  • Acting like they did they were much younger (and perhaps more closely cared for)
  • Becoming anxious and upset when away from caregivers or family members
  • Having nightmares and night terrors
  • Struggling in school or skipping school
  • Self-mutilation (cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Reckless behavior and risk-taking, including risky sexual behavior in older kids
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Problems with eating -- under-eating or over-eating to cope with the pain....

In providing a safe, nurturing environment in which to express their feelings about the traumatic events -- whether through talk, play, art, or sandplay, I help children aged 5-17 years old resolve their traumas and get their lives back on track. If you know a child or adolescent who could use my assistance and want to get them help, please call me at 661-233-6771. Let's make sure the next generation of people has less reason to be upset, worried and depressed.