How 7 year olds respond to trauma
I would prefer not to limit children’s emotional development or reactions to a specific age. Children have different personalities and levels of development. It is possible for a six year old to be emotionally more mature than a 8 year old, for example. Yet, there are certain milestones that tend to become visible around a certain age. Seven year olds have a tremendous emotional growth spurt which explains why they deal with trauma differently from pre-schoolers.
Around 7 years of age a child’s thinking and social skills change and they begin to understand the concept of permanent loss that comes with death. They may even become pre-occupied with and talk about death a lot. Serious logical thinking start to develop and they begin to understand and grasp disasters more completely. They start to mull over and reflect on traumatic events, trying to find ways it could have been avoided. They start to worry that the traumatic event may repeat itself or may befall someone close to them.
At this age they tend to be very self-critical and expect only perfection from themselves. Thus, they often lack self-confidence. They start to reason about the role they played in the traumatic incident. Emotions of guilt, failure, shame and anger begin to surface, though a child may not be able to verbally describe those feelings. Seven year olds find it hard to control their emotions. As a result they can have spectacular emotional outbursts and meltdowns. They also start to withdraw from or avoid adults.
Exposure to traumatic events can lead to certain behavior fall-outs such as
- Regression to earlier childhood behaviors like sleeping problems, bed wetting and sucking thumbs.
- Lack of concentration in school
- Grades that drop.
- Abnormally aggressive or violent behavior.
- Tantrums and violent emotional outbursts.
- Nightmare and night terrors.
- Traumatic play.
- Abnormal fearfulness. At this age a child grows more independent from his parents and start to roam the big, wide world. Extreme separation anxiety can be considered out of character from the age of seven.
- Physical symptoms such as stomach ache, nausea, headaches or a general complaints of not feeling well.