The impact of trauma on child development

The Impact of Trauma on Child Development

While a child’s innate potential often plays a role in her development, a variety of factors can impact her growth and progress in life. One external factor that can have lasting negative consequences is trauma. These traumatic experiences can come from a variety of sources, including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, family conflict, or violence in the community.

Psychological Impact

Trauma can have far-reaching psychological effects on a child’s development, including:

  • Increased Anxiety: Trauma can increase a child’s risk of developing anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These conditions can impair the development of a wide range of cognitive and social skills.
  • Attachment Issues: Trusting relationships with caregivers are vital for healthy development, and trauma can disrupt or damage these connections.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: The psychological effects of trauma can often interfere with concentration and focus, inhibiting the ability to learn.

Behavioral Impact

The psychological impacts of trauma can manifest in changes to a child’s behavior, including:

  • Distraction and Impulsivity: A traumatized child may become easily distracted, or act impulsively without thinking of the consequences.
  • Destructive Behavior: Traumatized children often display destructive behavior, including aggression and rebelliousness.
  • Isolation: Children may withdraw from relationships or isolate themselves to avoid potential danger.


Trauma can have long-lasting effects on a child’s psychological and behavioral development. Helping a child heal and process experiences of trauma is an important step in preventing potential problems later in life. Professionals trained in trauma intervention have the skills to identify trauma-caused patterns and facilitate healing.

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