“If most people go through a bad event such as a car crash, they remember it as a distant memory. If someone develops PTSD they remember it as if they are reliving it over and over again.”

The memories don’t fade over time, someone can relive childhood abuse in their fifties as if it was happening to them that day.

Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event or events through intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares,
  • Avoidance of thoughts, feelings, or reminders of the traumatic event(s),
  • Your thinking growing more and more negative about the traumatic event as time goes by,
  • Increases in irritability; aggressive, self-destructive, or reckless behaviours; or disruptions in concentration or sleep.


What’s the Impact?

A child who’s experienced trauma might regress in regard to skills he’s already learned. For example, a child who’s been successfully toilet trained for some time may regress back to wetting the bed at night. The impact on teens can show up in their behaviour: they may become disruptive, disrespectful, and destructive. These behaviours can put a strain on the relationship between you and your child.

But because we might not be aware of all the traumatic events our children have experienced, we might not recognize that these behaviour changes are related to a crisis in their lives. For example, children may not talk about an incident of sexual assault or bullying, out of fear that you may respond in anger or in a way that embarrasses them. So if your child is displaying some inappropriate behaviour, take time to ask some questions.

Please note children do not need to experience trauma first-hand to be affected, a study of people who were there on the day of the Boston Bombing or who watched it repeatedly on TV found the people who watched it repeatedly on TV had higher levels of distress than those who were there.

Two good books on understanding trauma are…

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.