Extreme stress and traumatic experiences that occur when children are 4-8 can have long term emotional, physical and educational effects.

Research has established that young children may be affected by events that threaten their safety or the safety of their parents/caregivers. These traumas can be the result of intentional violence, natural disaster, accidents, or war. Young children also may experience traumatic stress in response to neglect, substance abuse and medical procedures or the loss of a parent/caregiver.

What does this look like in my child? (Symptoms)


  • Irritability, “fussiness”

  • Startled easily or being difficult to calm

  • Frequent tantrums

  • Overeating, undereating

  • Clinginess, reluctance to explore the world

  • Activity levels that are much higher or lower than peers

  • Repeating traumatic events over and over in dramatic play or conversation

  • Delays in reaching physical, language, or other milestones

  • Complaints of physical illness


  • Trouble forming relationships with teachers

  • Poor self-regulation

  • Negative thinking and talking

  • Intense behaviors

  • Combative

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Impaired memory, especially working memory

  • Easily frustrated

  • Anxiety

How can I help my child now?

  • Routine and structure (regular bedtime routine; getting ready for school routine; computer, television and play time limits etc.)

  • Prepare child for changes in routine before the change occurs

  • Relaxation (a calm quiet living environment or personal space; yoga; soothing bedtime stories dimmed lights, soft classical music or natural sounds)

  • Work with school to create a plan (discuss triggers, calming methods)

  • One-on-one time with a loving, caring adult

  • Playtime with peers and adults that includes exercise, taking turns, laughter, kind words, etc.

  • Talk with child about their feelings when they are calm

  • Give 20 second hugs

  • Nutritious diet

What can I do for my child in the long-run?

  • Reassure child that they are safe

  • Mindfulness training

  • Individual and family therapy/Support group

  • Encourage child to express feelings with judging those feelings

  • Consult with pediatrician and mental health provider regularly

  • Work with mental health care provider

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