You know people affected by early trauma.

Though precise statistics are hard to find, indicators of trauma including a difficult pregnancy, difficult birth, early hospitalization, exposure to substances in utero, abuse, and neglect are shockingly common in children. If you work with children, you work with children impacted by early trauma. Some would argue that all children who were adopted experienced trauma with the separation from the birth mother who carried them for nine months. In any case, many children in adoptive families have experienced trauma and are coping with the aftermath of it in one way or another.

The consequences can be tragic.

Early trauma powerfully impacts the brain of a developing child. As a result, people who experienced childhood trauma may experience a variety of negative effects on their physical and mental health, relationships, sexuality, work environment and interaction with addictive substances. The statistics are sobering, but they don’t tell the whole story. With the intervention of caring adults, children can process their trauma in healthy, age-appropriate ways that set them up for success in the future.

A little bit of understanding can foster empathy.

If you are an adoptive parent, you will likely know as many details about your child’s trauma as they do (you may even know more). However, it is important to stress that it’s not necessary to know the specifics of a child’s story in order to respond to them with understanding and empathy.

A connection can rewire the brain.

Science is helping us understand that just as trauma changes brain chemistry and the actual structure of the brain, secure attachment can help rewire neurons and reverse some of the adverse effects of early trauma. The most helpful resource that I’ve read on this is The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. I highly recommend this book for all adoptive parents and anyone else who wants a practical guide to helping children process early trauma and engage their higher-level thinking skills.

What would you add? How has understanding child trauma helped you interact effectively with your children or other people in your life?