Emerging Minds

The impact of trauma on the child

About the course

This course will introduce you to key understandings about trauma and adversity, and their impact on children. It explores the ways that a child might respond to trauma, and how children and families can recover from trauma. It will also introduce a trauma sensitive approach to supporting children who have experienced trauma or adversity, and invite you to reflect on how you can integrate this into your interactions with children you care for.

Who is this course for?

This foundation-level course is designed for professionals, volunteers, families, carers and community workers who work with, or care for, children. While it briefly introduces a trauma-informed approach to responding to the prevalence of trauma, and its impacts on children and families, it does not explore trauma-specific therapies.


Therapeutic work with children who have experienced trauma requires specialised training, and should be undertaken by suitably skilled professionals.

If you are concerned about the recovery of a child from trauma or adversity, you may wish to encourage the parents to contact their GP.

Learning outcomes

As you progress through this course, you will work towards being able to:

  • describe what is meant by trauma and adversity
  • explain the potential impact of trauma and adversity on children
  • recognise child responses to trauma
  • explain ways that children and families can recover from trauma
  • recognise the importance of a trauma-informed approach when supporting children.


It is estimated that this course will take you one hour to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked, and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.

Learning pathway

This is a foundation course for all of Emerging Minds’ e-learning courses, and will provide you with key understandings that will support your engagement with any of the areas that you choose to pursue with Emerging Minds’ resources.


This course features videos of fictional parents and family scenarios. As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed: 

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later. 
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy. 
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course. 

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purpose of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. Social and emotional wellbeing incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths. It is integral to child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings 
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people 
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed 
  • regulate behaviour 
  • develop empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships.3


This course draws on the latest research, clinical insights, and the lived experience of our child and family partners. We’d like to thank the professionals and families who played an integral role in shaping this course, generously offering their time, wisdom and unique perspectives.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.

Ready to start learning?

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