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Trauma Resources

Trauma can be a difficult thing for any family to go through. Easter Seals Michigan is here to help. We also find resources to be incredibly valuable. Here are several wonderful resources that may be useful to you.

group of kids smiling

The effects of complex trauma can impact:

  • Physical health
  • Attachment and relationships
  • Behavior
  • Emotional responses

To read more about these topics click here: http://www.nctsn.org/resources/topics or http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types.


How to build resiliency in children

Resiliency is a great tool to dealing with trauma. It can help the child to recover. Here are some helpful tips:

Resilience Factors: “I Have” “I Am” “I Can”

The “I Have” factors are the external supports and resources that promote resilience. These are the core resources a child has.

I Have:

• People around me I trust and who love me no matter

• People who set limits for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble

• People who show me how to do things right by the way they do things

• People who want me to learn things on my own

• People who help me when I am sick, in danger or need to learn

The “I am” factors are the child's internal, personal strengths. These are feelings, attitudes and beliefs within the child.

I am:

• A person people can like and love

• Glad to do nice things for others and show my concern

• Respectful of myself and others

• Willing to be responsible for what I do

• Sure things will turn out right

The “I Can” factors are the child's social and interpersonal skills.

I Can:

• Talk to others about things that frighten or bother me

• Find ways to solve problems I face

• Control myself when I feel like doing something not right or dangerous

• Figure out when it is a good time to talk to someone or take action

• Find someone to help me when I need it

adult helping child


  • Not every child experiences traumatic stress after a trauma. All children are different, and many children are able to adapt to and overcome difficult events and situations.
  • About one out of every four children will experience a traumatic event before the age of sixteen, and some of these children will develop traumatic stress.
  • If left untreated, traumatic stress can interfere with a child's healthy development and lead to long-term difficulties with school, relationships, jobs, and the ability to participate fully in a healthy life. 


Attachment and Relationships: The majority of abused or neglected children have difficulty developing a strong healthy attachment to a caregiver

Physical Health: Body and Brain - Stress in an environment can impair the development of the brain and nervous system, they may be hypersensitive to sounds, smells, touch or light, or they may suffer from anesthesia and analgesia

Emotional Responses: Often have difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing emotions, and may have limited language for feeling states, internalize and/or externalize stress reactions, experience significant depression, anxiety, or anger.

Dissociation: Histories of complex trauma. When children encounter an overwhelming and terrifying experience, they may dissociate, or mentally separate themselves from the experience.

Behavior: The child may struggle with self-regulation, and may lack impulse control. As a result, complexly traumatized children may behave in ways that appear unpredictable, oppositional, volatile, and extreme

Cognition: Children with complex trauma histories may have problems thinking clearly, reasoning, or problem solving.

Self-Concept & Future Orientation: Caregivers have the greatest influence on a child's sense of self-worth and value. Abuse and neglect make a child feel worthless and despondent. A child who is abused will often blame him- or herself.

Long-Term Health Consequences: Connection between childhood trauma exposure, high-risk behaviors (e.g., smoking, unprotected sex), chronic illness such as heart disease and cancer, and early death.



Age, developmental maturity, and experience can influence the way we react to stress after the traumatic experience is over.

  • School-age children and adolescents can experience the full range of post traumatic stress reactions that are seen in adults.
  • The effects of fear can quickly get in the way of recent learning.
  • Child may start wetting the bed again or go back to baby-talk.

Because a child's brain does not yet have the ability to quiet down fears, the preschool child may have very strong startle reactions, night terrors, and aggressive outbursts.

  • Young children can feel deeply threatened by separation from parents or caretakers.
  • Young children can witness violence within the family or be left helpless after a parent or caretaker is injured, as might occur in a serious automobile accident.

Become passive and quiet, easily alarmed, and less secure about being provided with protection.



School-age children think about lots of frightening moments during their traumatic experiences. They also go over what could have stopped them from happening and what could have made them turn out differently.

  • They are likely to develop intense specific new fears that link back to the original danger.
  • More than any other group, school-age children may go back and forth between shy or In traumatic situations when there is
  • Violence against family members, they can feel like failures for not having done something helpful. 
  • School-age children may also feel very ashamed or guilty. Withdrawn behavior and unusually aggressive behavior.
  • Their lack of restful sleep can interfere with their daytime concentration and attention. It can then be more difficult for them to study because they remain on alert for things happening around them.



These reactions may result in a sense of personal isolation. In their post-trauma thoughts, adolescents think about behavior and choices that go back to well before a traumatic situation.

  • In a community sample of older adolescents, 14.5 percent of those who had experienced a serious trauma developed PTSD.
  • They are also very sensitive to the failure of family, school, or community to protect them or carry out justice. Afterward they may turn even more to peers to judge risks and to take protective action.
  • Adolescents are particularly challenged by reactions that persist after traumatic experiences.
  • Adolescents can easily interpret many of these reactions as being regressive or childlike.
  • Adolescents may interpret their reactions as signs of "going crazy," of being weak, or of being different from everyone else.
  • Adolescents may be embarrassed by bouts of fear and exaggerated physiological responses.
  • Adolescents may harbor the belief that they are unique in their pain and suffering.
  • Adolescents try to get rid of post-trauma emotions and physical responses through the use of alcohol and drugs.



Cognitive-behavioral therapies have been proven effective in helping children with CTS. These therapies generally include the following features:

  • Teaching children stress management and relaxation skills
  • Creating a coherent narrative or story of what happened
  • Correcting untrue or distorted ideas about what happened and why
  • Changing unhealthy and wrong views that have resulted from the trauma
  • Involving parents in creating optimal recovery environments

For a list of treatments go to: http://www.nctsn.org/resources/topics/treatments-that-work/promising-practices#top


  • Do not take your child's behaviors personally.
  • Try to stay calm. Find ways to respond to outbursts that do not make things worse.

Lower your voice. Do not yell or show aggression.

  • Do not stare or look directly at your child for too long.

Some children see this as a threat.

  • When your child keeps you at a distance, stay available and responsive.
  • When you can, stay away from discipline that uses physical punishment.

For a child who was abused, this may cause panic and out-of-control behavior.

  • Let your child feel the way she feels. Teach your child words to describe her feelings.

Show acceptable ways for her to deal with feelings.

  • Be patient. Years of trauma or abuse to get the child in his current state of mind. Learning to trust again is not likely to happen overnight.
  • Be consistent, predictable, caring, and patient.

Teach your child that others can be trusted.


Ask for help when you have concerns, questions, or are struggling. There are proven therapies to help children and parents adjust to trauma's effects. You do not have to do this by yourself.



 For any additional questions, call 800.75.SEALS.












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