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How Loss & Trauma Impact Youth

Children and youth who experience trauma and loss carry that trauma with them. It can affect them throughout their lives. As a parent, being aware of the areas affected by trauma is important. Here, you’ll learn how trauma affects children, and how you, as a parent or guardian, can support them in these areas.


Maltreated youth often avoid closeness. They fear relationships since they could associate them with loss or pain. They can create self-protection defenses like numbing and withdrawal.

Youth need to identify and express their feelings as they manage their fears. Encouraging them to do so can help them overcome attachment problems. Guardians need to use positive interactions. They must respond to the youth's needs and honor the youth's previous attachments. Guardians need to work through their own losses and manage their negative feelings.

Safety & Control

Youth who could not protect themselves in the past may feel powerless. Leading them to fear impending doom, be angry or have tension, and have the need to feel in control.

The youth needs support in stressful situations. Guardians can help by creating chances for success and push the youth to make good choices. Guardians must be an example of someone who can manage their anger.

Self-Regulation - The ability to manage one’s emotions and behavior.

Maltreatment of children and youth can impair their developing brain. Sometimes affecting their ability to self-regulate or manage their own emotions and behavior. They need help identifying and expressing their feelings while considering the possible consequences. Guardians need to help the youth talk about their feelings and help them accept responsibilities for behaviors. and practice re-dos.

Identity & Sense of Self - One’s perception of characteristics that define themselves

Youth that were maltreated or removed from birth parents may think they are unlovable and incomplete. They struggle to have a positive sense of who they are and their place in the world.

To heal, youth need to reconstruct and process their life history. Guardians need to talk about adoption and past trauma. They need to teach the youth how to handle negative comments from others. Overall guardians must be open in the youths' best interest.

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