Puberty and Trauma

‘He is a child, he does not understand. We don’t reveal anything to him. We often hear phrases such as ”he forgets somehow”. Do we really forget the events we had as children?

Adolescents enter a brand new process that we usually do not know the answer to, and which parents and many adults cannot make sense of. Nothing lived is left behind, unfinished business always comes after us, and many things become more meaningful with adolescence…

Adolescents are affected to varying degrees by events that cause negative changes in their lives. There are many reasons why some of them are affected more and some less from the same event. Among these reasons, besides factors such as age, distance from the event, personality structure, support systems, the perception and comments of the young person towards the event are also very important. These comments include “I am a bad person, I am untrustworthy, I am weak, I am guilty, I am incompetent…”.

Since these beliefs are directed towards the adolescent himself, they may affect his/her later behaviors in this direction. For example, children who have felt guilty since childhood will be constantly restless, try to make themselves liked by their surroundings, and become angry at the same time.

In adolescence, there may be differences in the behaviors exhibited by children in different age periods. For example, differences can be observed between early adolescence and middle adolescence. The traumatic event or situation triggered during adolescence is much more complex, but much more intense and severe. The way of experiencing past pain in adolescence and the way of reacting differ from person to person.

A wide variety of trauma-related behaviors can be observed in adolescence. Among them; sleep disorders, nightmares, flashbacks in sleep or daily life (such as incontinence), being fidgety, restless, sleepy, dull, desire to be alone, crying at every opportunity, excessive attachment to familiar objects, difficulty in coping with change, differences in relationships, being overly demanding or completely withdrawn, more negative relationships with siblings, increased fights, developing obsessive thoughts about the traumatic event, worrying about the event being repeated, caring too much about the needs of others, decrease in school success, decrease in attention, dissatisfaction Don’t be over-reacting to minor events…

Grief Reactions and Feelings of Guilt in Adolescence

While every loss that is not mourned as a child causes intense feelings of anger and guilt with adolescence, on the other hand, the adolescent may feel very vulnerable and helpless with the effect of physiological and biological changes.

When children lose a loved one or an acquaintance, they often seem to be unaffected from the outside, but they experience a great confusion inside.

Just like adults, they want to be given the chance to say “goodbye” to the person they lost. That’s why it’s so important to have a “farewell ceremony” at home, among the family, or if the child’s age and location are appropriate, attend the funeral. .The grieving process, which is not experienced in childhood, also causes different reactions and behaviors along with the adolescence period.

While every loss that is not mourned as a child causes intense feelings of anger and guilt in adolescence, on the other hand, the adolescent may feel very vulnerable and helpless with the effect of physiological and biological changes. The feeling of guilt is the most important emotion in adolescence. In this period when identity development begins, the child’s self-perception will also be negatively affected, as the child will develop false beliefs. For these reasons, the feeling of guilt is an emotion that needs attention and care.

The stages of grief generally observed in adolescence are:

To reject:
Ergen does not want to think that he will never see his loved one again; unacceptable. He can dream about the person he lost and hope that he will come back again.

Anger:
After the person realizes that the event he has experienced is irreversible and that his life has started to be structured in a different way, he begins to feel anger towards both the situation and the person he has lost.

Sadness:
The person begins to feel great sadness for his loss. This sadness is both for the person he lost and for the lack he experiences in himself.

Getting used to and moving forward:
The young-boy has now digested his loss and started to structure his life without that person. His thoughts are more future oriented.

Regardless of age, it is not quite correct to think that young adolescents will pass through these stages in a certain time and sequence. Some may pass these stages in a very short time, while others may stay in a certain stage for a longer period of time and even experience flashbacks from time to time. Sometimes, young people may show no reaction for a while and then start to show grieving reactions. It is up to adults to watch their children closely and give them the support they need.

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