Trauma – impacts on behaviour

Youth who have trauma, either from repeated abusive events or from a one-time event, may experience:[Adapted from: National Centre for Biotechnology Information]

  • difficulty with managing anger and being self-destructive
  • information processing, including attention, concentration, learning difficulties, and consciousness, e.g., amnesias and dissociation
  • self-concept, including guilt and shame
  • behavioral control, including aggression and substance abuse
  • interpersonal relationships, including trust and intimacy
  • physical symptoms that are psychological (experiencing pain that can’t be traced to any physical cause, also called somatization)

The trauma experience shows through behaviours such as:

  • Trouble concentrating, not able to do homework
  • Not sleeping
  • Skipping school
  • Eating disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Oppositional behaviours
  • Peer conflicts
  • Using alcohol and drugs
  • Secretive behaviours
  • Moodiness or not wanting to engage and talk to adults
  • Self-harming behaviours
  • Verbal and physical aggression

These are just a few examples. For some youth, the behaviours they engage in are not easily understood by themselves, let alone by their parents, caregivers or teachers.

Understanding trauma and how to heal from it is important learning, for young people and the people who care for them. Authors such as Gabor Maté and Bessel Van der Kolk are medical doctors who have done extensive work on trauma.

See also:

Sibling Violence on the Learning Network



Further Reading & Resources