How does violence and trauma affected a child’s brain?
A research-based discussion by Ron Huxley, LMFT
It is interesting how society views traumatic experiences. We tend to “sweep it under the rug” and pretend it doesn’t affect us or tell ourselves to “move on.” So many people come into my office who have a long list of traumatic experiences but can’t identify one reason why they are having problems in their work and family relationships today.
If we as adults do not recognize the affects of exposure to violence and traumatic abuse and neglect, we won’t recognize it in our children either. There is a belief that children are resilient and they won’t remember the early incidents of violence in their lives but that is simply not sound science or everyday reality.
Watch the video above to see what modern-day researchers are saying about a child’s exposure to violence and trauma. I will make a few more comments that highlight areas for parenting the traumatized child.
The child’s brain develops from the bottom up and the inside out. Fear disrupts and shuts down the thinking areas of the brain that shows up in night terrors, severe tantrums and difficulty in attachment and bonding. At times, it seems that children have no conscience or remorse. These are survival strategies!
Children exposed to violence and trauma have a higher rate of mental health issues and chaotic relationships later in life. It is a “lifetime legacy” with unhealthy coping behaviors and individuals end up doing the very thing that was done to them no matter how much they vow to never be or do that to another human being.
Healing for traumatized children need to re-experience stressful situations by using calmer, more rational strategies. Being able to talk about feelings instead of acting them out is crucial to children. Children need “healthy adults to connect to…”
Traumatized children who become parenting themselves have to re-learn how to create an environment that is safe and healthy. The “most important thing a parent needs to understand is that a child’s brain will become what it is exposed to…The brain is a mirror to a child’s experience.”
It seems simplistic but if you want your child to be kind, they have to be treated kindly. If you want your children to feel safe, they need to experience safety. If you want your child to be respectful, you have to treat them respectfully.
What are you reactions to this video? How have your overcome your traumatized childhood and become a safe, healthy parent? Share your thoughts with us in our ParentingToolbox Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox/
Video source: (via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEEVKDW5NDc)