Youth and Trauma


‘Trauma’ is a big word. Trauma is any life event that may be violent, cause a sense of danger or fear, and poses a threat to a person’s life; even witnessing such an event can instill these emotions. Almost any experience can be traumatic, especially to a child. Many times parents find it hard to distinguish grief reactions from trauma reactions. The table below can help to decipher.




Generalized reaction is sadness

Generalized reaction is terror

Grief reactions can stand alone

Trauma reactions generally also include grief reactions

In grief, most can generally talk about what happened

In trauma, most will not want to talk about what happened

In grief, regret says, “I wish I would/would not have…”

Trauma guilt says, “It was my fault, I could have prevented it.”

In grief, dreams tend to be of the person who died

In trauma, dreams are about the child himself dying or being hurt


 How as parents do you support your children? Here are common suggestions of how to support your child if they have experienced trauma:

  • Understanding what trauma is and could be
  • Knowing your children well enough to recognize when changes occur in their moods, behaviors and overall interactions with you after a traumatic event
  • Modeling healthy ways to cope with difficulties
  • Talking about things openly and at your child’s pace and developmental level
  • Being present for them
  • Ask them what would make them feel safe (they have great ideas!)
  • Continue with ‘normal’ life activities
  • Provide daily structure

If you find your child is needing more support than these suggestions reach out to us for help. FamilyMeans provides Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT) for children, teens, and parents to help process through traumatic experiences and build resiliency. TFCBT is widely researched and found to be the number one treatment for children and teens who have been through a traumatic event. Let us help you and your family on the path to healing! Contact us today at or 651-439-4840.