Childhood trauma does not define a child.
We know more about childhood trauma and its effect on the developing child than we ever have before. The resiliency of the developing brain provides an opportunity for us to intervene and provide healthy, safe, and nurturing experiences that grow the brain and help heal.
Exposure to continuous trauma causes the body’s alarm system to be easily triggered, releasing stress hormones that interfere with reasoning and activate that flight, fight, or freeze response. Children cannot learn or get along with friends or family members when living in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze. Rather, their goal is to survive.
He was six and it was his unexpected, quiet remark that clearly described the struggle, “I just feel like something bad is going to happen all the time.” For this boy, like many others, childhood included too many scary life experiences. He was well prepared to respond to danger at any time – he knew it well.
Recently, I had a friend call and ask if I could help a co-worker who was struggling with his 15-year-old daughter. Of course, as someone in the mental health industry, I automatically said yes. Not knowing what was going to be asked of me, I called this father who was looking for advice and my heart sank as I listened to him talk.