The Relationship Between Early Childhood Trauma and Behavioral Issues

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and early childhood trauma can significantly impact a child’s physical and emotional development. ACEs increase the risk of mental health disorders, making it essential that parents educate themselves about the possible side effects of early childhood trauma, how it can manifest in adolescence and young adulthood, and how to mitigate negative outcomes.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “More than two thirds of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16.” At Havenwood Academy, we use evidence-based treatments to help teenage girls who struggle with childhood trauma heal. Your daughter can recover and learn to overcome behavioral issues related to ACEs.

The Relationship Between Trauma and Behavioral Issues

Unprocessed trauma can manifest in many ways, including behavioral problems, mental health disorders, and physiological issues. Teenage girls have a high risk of dangerous maladaptive behaviors like substance misuse, eating disorders, or self-harm. Some teen girls use these harmful activities to cope with untreated mental health problems.

The connections between early childhood trauma and behavioral issues include:

  • Children with difficulty regulating emotions may have experienced traumatic forms of punishment
  • Childhood abuse, neglect, or exploitation can lead to maladaptive coping behaviors and difficulty controlling emotions
  • In rare cases, childhood trauma and behavioral issues develop independently

Havenwood Academy offers a safe space where your child can address their trauma and learn to cope with the symptoms healthily. Your child’s care team will treat trauma and behavioral issues simultaneously to decrease the risk of future mental health issues.

Early Trauma Can Affect Attachment and Stress Management

Childhood trauma can cause reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and other attachment disorders in some children. The symptoms of attachment disorders can interfere with a child’s ability to create strong, healthy connections with peers and family members. Common early childhood traumas include:

  • Childhood neglect, abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitation
  • Witnessing or experiencing a traumatic injury, accident, or illness
  • Experiencing or witnessing a natural disaster
  • Living in a war zone or experiencing trauma related to terrorist activity

Early childhood experiences could have caused maladaptive brain development, decreasing your child’s ability to cope with environmental stressors or emotional distress.

How Mood Disorders Manifest in Teenagers

Mood disorders are a common side effect of early childhood trauma and can cause severe behavioral issues. The most common symptoms of mood disorders in teenagers include:

  • Unusual changes in appetite and noticeable weight changes
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia, excessive oversleeping, and night terrors
  • Isolation from friends and family members
  • Angry outbursts or unusual irritation
  • Irrational emotional responses to minor everyday stressors
  • Socially inappropriate behaviors
  • Anxiety or depression symptoms
  • Chronic fatigue

Every teenager responds differently to mood disorders, and the symptoms can vary from mild to severe. If you are concerned that your child’s trauma has caused mood disorders or other mental health issues, have them assessed by a mental health professional. Early intervention of mental health issues usually ensures better outcomes.

How to Address Common Behavioral Issues

Many common behavioral issues can lead to unhealthy family dynamics unless you actively work to support your child and address their needs. Therapy and a loving home environment provide a foundation for positive change. However, treatment is not a cure for your child; the issues will continue once they complete treatment unless you collaborate with your child and their care team to determine what changes can ensure they feel comfortable and supported. Provide your daughter with a safe and loving space where she feels valued and heard by listening to her and giving her unconditional support.

You can address behavioral issues by doing the following:

  • Ensuring your child feels loved
  • Providing a safe, warm, and nurturing home
  • Ensuring they get necessary mental health treatment
  • Encouraging positive peer relationships

Your Child Can Heal From Trauma

The life skills taught in treatment can help your teen heal from their trauma. Your child will thrive as they grow and explore their self-identity through healthy and self-affirming activities. Treatment often includes family therapy, individual therapy, and group counseling. In some cases, teenagers might need prescription medication to manage symptoms. The mental health professionals at Havenwood Academy can give your daughter the tools she needs to recover from past trauma.

Most children with behavioral or mental health issues recover using evidence-based methods, including psychotherapy. Professional mental health treatment helps your child achieve:

  • Increased sense of empowerment and control over their emotional responses
  • Improved social and communication skills
  • A stronger relationship with peers and adoptive family members
  • Reduced mental health symptoms
  • Fewer behavioral issues

We believe all girls deserve access to a compassionate and empathetic support system tailored to their unique mental health needs. Your daughter can learn to manage her symptoms and find healthier ways to cope with daily stressors and trauma responses by attending Havenwood Academy.

Trauma that occurs when a child is very young can have far-reaching consequences on their mental health. Support your child by getting them the help they need to reprocess any early childhood trauma. Havenwood Academy offers evidence-based therapy and other treatments for adolescent and teenage girls who struggle to cope with early childhood traumas. We provide individual counseling, group support, and access to prescription medications, among other treatments. With the help of a professional care team, your child can heal from early childhood trauma and grow through treatment and recovery. To learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help your daughter, call our office today at (435) 586-2500.


Think Havenwood Might Be For You?

We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.