Medical intelligentsia has proved that the effect of childhood trauma can stay with the child for a very long time. It is a multi-headed monster that has a sinister impact on one’s lifelong health and can adversely impact the physical and mental health of the individual even in adulthood.
The psychological and emotional scars of unpleasant happenings easily haunt the impressionable minds of young children. If left unattended in the initial years, these impressions lead to a series of new traumatic events in all stages of life.
In childhood, these traumatic events have a multi-dimensional impact & largely hinder the child’s learning capacity. As per a credible literature review, there is a close relationship between trauma exposure and the student’s learning.
Let’s understand more about it!
Trauma in any form hampers the ability to focus and creates concentration problems
Exposure to trauma at a young age can lead to grade repetition, discipline issues,
behavior problems and poor academic achievements.
Such students are often found spaced out in a class and they are more likely to indulge in abrupt physical reactions (such as violence).
The study also reveals that traumatic events lead to lower IQ and reading abilities because of a sense of insecurity in students. These children find it difficult to adapt to situations that they find unsafe! And this affects their academic, behavioral, and general learning abilities
Let’s have a look at some facts about the effects of childhood trauma on the psychological functionality of an individual.
The US National Library of Medicine discovered that adverse childhood experiences have multiple negative physiological and physical health outcomes. This experimental study highlighted that the disorder caused by childhood trauma mostly occurs in the early years of life and therefore, affects the developmental aspects of one’s personality.
Here’s a gist of the conclusions derived after this experiment:
- Adverse experiences lead to sleep disturbances
- It triggers stress reactivity in an individual
- Leads to various physical and emotional health issues
Let’s understand more about the reasons for these physical and emotional health issues-
As per the Centers for disease control and prevention, most cases of childhood trauma and mental health statistics are due to:
- Suicide attempt by a family member
- Witnessing violence in one’s home or community
- Substance or physical abuse
- Childhood neglect
- Separation of parents or any loved ones
- Growing up amongst people with mental health disorders
- Instances of imprisonment of family members
Trauma in any form can lead to a change in one’s brain structure and develops some long-term physical and behavioral health issues such as:
- Use of harmful substances
- Engagement in unsafe sexual activities
It is evident that traumatic events at a young age are a grave issue and need mindful and structured handling.
Here are 6 ways that can help to reduce the effect of childhood trauma-
- Positive experiences:
Positive experiences can help to reduce the imprints of unpleasant happenings of the past.
Hence, it is best to create more positive and likable experiences to instill a sense of
belongingness in the child, because we all need our share of care, love and emotional
All this will make him/her emotionally secure and the child’s energy will start getting channelized for the good. Simple family trips or weekend outings can help in bringing down the stress levels and anguish in the child’s mind. Plan more of these and try to stick to the child’s personal likings.
- Effective communication and rapport building:
The effects of childhood trauma on psychological functionality can also be reduced by improving the ties of communication. Try to build a strong bond with the child and let him/her vent out the anger.
This communication will transmit your sense of empathy to the child and it will make him/her feel more loved. Eventually, the child will be able to overcome excessive stress. So allow the kid to TALK IT OUT!
Try to make it more of a stress relief exercise and refrain from reaching a point that the kid starts reliving it. Focus on the point that the past is gone. Reassure the child that you will be supportive and that there will be no reoccurrence of such an event in the future.
- Take steps to increase resilience:
As human beings, we need to understand and accept our imperfections, because we cannot take control of every situation all the time. The signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults are mostly because of the lack of resilience in them.
So the best way to help a child fight adverse experiences is to train the brain with the power of resilience. Resilience is one’s inner capacity to manage stressful situations and it instills a sense of positivity despite some unhappy events around us.
The best way to promote resilience in a child is to increase his/her self-confidence.
Focus on the strengths of the child and make sure you praise him/her genuinely and
enough. Let the child feel a sense of worth through even the smallest efforts.
The improved self-efficacy and motivation will also make the child capable of selecting responses for a particular situation and eventually, things will be easier by the virtue of his/her mental strength.
- Lifestyle changes:
Physical exercise and personal well-being are other dependable strategies for cases that fall under the category of childhood trauma and mental health statistics. Ensure that the child eats nutritious meals, takes a sound sleep and indulges in activities that calm down the mind.
It is also good to interact with friends and vent out thoughts that rob the mind of its peace. For children, all these things can be lifestyle training to suppress the ill effects of unpleasant past experiences. Try more of these sure-shot solutions and wait for good results in the future.
- Breathing techniques:
Childhood trauma and mental health statistics also highlight certain workable areas for adults. In most cases, parents lack the right skills of parenting and all this boils down to the tender minds of children.
If you notice signs of trauma in a child, make him/her practice some breathing techniques.
Breathing exercises such as ‘Diaphragmatic’ breathing, Lion’s Breath, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, etc. are great to relieve stress. Breathing exercises and meditation are tried and tested ways of responding to unavoidable stress. You can also make it better by adding some interesting variations or relaxing music.
- Soothing activities:
Activities that soothe the mind are also helpful in eliminating negativity from the mind and in turn reduce the effect of childhood trauma. These activities can include listening to soft melodies, instrumentals, natural sounds like rain, waves or forest.
Other than this, prayers are also effective, as they provide a fallback option when the individual feels hopeless. You may teach the child to pray and try to nurture a level of faith to bank upon.
Additionally, you can try using ‘Aromatherapy’ fragrances. These are proven to stimulate and restore one’s physical and emotional well-being. These fragrances act on an individual’s central nervous system and bring down the overall stress levels.
Digital applications for stress management are also used at schools. Top traditional schools and digital schooling platforms make use of these to help their students in managing general academic and other stress levels.
Other than this, you can also give the child some real-life experiences like nature walk, trekking or watching sunrise or sunset at the beach. Spending time with pets, gardening, art activities, etc. can also be incorporated.
A bit about medications and therapies-
The effects of childhood trauma on psychological functionality can also be treated through medications and therapies. But it is important for us to know that any therapy/medication to heal trauma ultimately makes the agony manageable.
In the case of children, these therapies/medications should be considered as the last option, as they can also have some side effects.
Initially, it’s better to try more natural and lifestyle-based solutions before going for any medication and a practitioner or professional should be consulted if all your possible solutions fail.
Again, it is important for you to be watchful for warning signs that show a deterioration in the child’s condition and do not delay in seeking professional help. Observe the child for signs like constant irritability, frequent or uncontrolled emotional reactivity or depression, etc.
The effect of childhood trauma can lead to an inclination towards certain substances that alter one’s state of mind. Hence, while dealing with children who have experienced trauma, parents/adults should be watchful about an inclination for mood-altering substances such as alcohol, drugs, caffeine, or nicotine, etc.
Trauma management is all about taking care of the body and mind and fortunately, it is possible to pull out a child from the ghastly memories of this trauma.
Hope this blog helped you to know more about this vital topic!
Look out for the next blog.
Thanks for reading!