Trauma: The Signs and Symptoms


I wanted to write this post to help aid parents in seeing some of the signs/symptoms of trauma in their children.

Trauma symptoms can be sneaky and hide very well behind what most think are normal adolescent behaviors. The phrase “normal adolescent behavior” can at times be laughable, because not much of the transitional adolescent years feels or looks “normal” to the parent or teen. However, there are a few signs to be wary of.


  • Isolation and Silence [that signifies a change in their typical state; “out of the norm” for the child]
  • Anger Outbursts and Irritability
  • Tearfulness or Uncontrollable Sobbing
  • Nightmares [frequent or recurring]
  • Inattentiveness/Difficulty concentrating
  • Paranoia [hypervigiliance in protective factors]
  • Rarely if ever feeling safe [sometimes engaging in compulsive behaviors to ensure safety]
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Self-Harming
  • Falling behind in schoolwork
  • Intense resentment or reluctance to attend school
  • Significant change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Lack of motivation
  • Recurring physical illnesses [low immune system functionality etc. brought about by high levels of cortisol from behind-the-scenes stress]
  • Refusing or inability to engage emotionally [numbing, blunting, over-intellectualizing/rationalizing]
  • Digestive problems
  • Physical illness symptoms without physical evidences

This list is not exhaustive and all symptoms need not be present for trauma to have been experienced. This list is also not intended to allow parents to read late at night and have them spiraling into the depths of worry and concern. However, if that is your response, know there is hope for you and your child. This list is intended to increase your awareness of your child’s behaviors, so you will consider intervening earlier rather than later. I wrote this to let you know there is hope for helping early on, rather than years down the line after they try using all the unhelpful options out there for silencing pain…I know this from professional and personal experience.

If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “I wonder if that’s what’s going on”, it would probably be best to bring them in. Even if only to communicate to your child that you are listening to the words they may not be speaking, and are willing to get them help. That message alone can bring you and your child emotional security.

We will work together to ensure that you and your child are emotionally supported, so your family can gain resiliencies to free you up to face your future with confidence!

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