Posttraumatic stress disorder in children. The influence of developmental factors

Clin Psychol Rev. 2002 Mar;22(2):163-88. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(01)00086-1.


Despite the prevalence of childhood trauma, there are currently no developmentally oriented cognitive theories of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This paper outlines the definitional issues of PTSD in children, reviews the incidence of PTSD in children, and compares PTSD profiles in children and adults. We propose that a cognitive theory of childhood PTSD needs to accommodate developmental factors, including knowledge, language development, memory, emotion regulation, and social cognition, in addition to contextual factors such as family interactions. Implications of these developmental factors for assessment and treatment of traumatized children are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy