Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was originally conceived as a condition that affected adults, having it’s original origins as a syndrome experienced by war veterans. Over the years, we have increasingly understood that children can experience PTSD also, and the diagnostic criteria (i.e., symptoms that an individual needs to display to receive a diagnosis of PTSD) have been changed to include a subtype of PTSD especially for young children. In this study, we explored whether using the young children PTSD diagnosis increased our ability to identify children who needed help, using large ‘population level’ datasets collected from national surveys. We had a particular focus on children aged 5-6years olds as these were the children the young children PTSD subtype was designed for. We examined data from both the general population and also children in care (i.e., ‘looked after children’). When we used the adult criteria, not a single 5-6 year old in the general population was diagnosed with PTSD, but using the young children PTSD subtype, 5.4% of children who had been exposed to trauma had developed PTSD. In children in care, only 2.7% of trauma-exposed children met the adult criteria, but 57% met the young children PTSD subtype criteria. The young children criteria also appeared to improve identification of older children too. These results show that using the young children PTSD subtype will dramatically improve identification of 5-6 year old children who need help following a trauma.