Childhood trauma can take various forms, such as physical, sexual, emotional, and neglect. This particular factor is responsible for adverse health consequences in adults.
Adverse childhood experiences research has show that adults who have been exposed to child maltreatment (ACE’s) have a shorter life expectancy. Research has shown that they have an increased rate of suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and certain forms of cancer have decreased their life expectancy as much as 7 years on average.
The Impact of Childhood Trauma
The impact of traumatic stress exceeds the stage of childhood. In fact, research has shown that children who survive trauma are particularly at high risk of having:
- Learning problems, low school average, and more suspensions and expulsions from school
- Increased use of medical and mental health services
- Increased use of the child welfare system and the juvenile justice system
- Long-term health problems (e.g., diabetes and heart disease)
- Trauma is a risk factor for almost all mental and substance use disorders.
What Can You Do To Help?
With the right support, many children can adapt and overcome such experiences.
As a parent or close adult, you can be a central agent in a child’s recovery. Remember:
- Be patient. There is no predefined time to recover. Grieving is a process and there is no time limit on it. Some children recover quickly, while others recover more slowly. Try not to shame the child or make them feel guilty that they haven’t “let it go.” They have a right to their feelings and it will take lots of healing experiences for them to overcome.
- Reassure the child that he or she is not responsible for what happened. Children may blame themselves for what happened, even if the events were beyond their control.
- Create an environment where the grieving child feels safe. This will lower their anxiety and make them feel secure. Trust is a huge factor in feeling safe.
But, Is It Enough?
Even with the support of family members, teachers, coaches and others, some children do not recover naturally. When post traumatic event-related stress continues, a mental health professional with expertise in childhood trauma can help the child and family recover.
Treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, art therapy, music therapy, sand therapy and others are effective in helping children manage traumatic stress. There are several promising, evidence-based practices for relieving traumatic stress.
Finally, consider inviting a survivor of horrific childhood trauma who is now a top keynote speaker, trainer and author of seven books to your event, conference or organization. Derek Clark is a top childhood trauma keynote speaker and now offers virtual keynote presentations and training during this Covid-19 pandemic.