Parents who did not have an ideal childhood may unknowingly be perpetuating the same traumatic experiences for their children. However, the cycle can be broken.
More than half of us grew up in families that were marked with challenges, but we don’t have to pass those experiences on to the next generation. The cycle can be broken by developing safe, stable and nurturing relationships that heal the parent and the child. The keys to success are developing healthy relationships and building resiliency.
Traumatic, or adverse, childhood experiences can include neglect as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Other family issues that can contribute to a traumatic childhood include substance abuse, divorce, hunger, domestic violence, mental illness and incarceration.
Children who are exposed to many adverse childhood experiences may become overloaded with stress hormones, leaving them in a constant state of fight or flight and unable to focus. They learn adaptive and coping behaviors in response to these experiences.
This month will share research on how children respond to trauma, how to build resiliency in children and ways that communities can begin to support all children and families in reducing the incidence and impact of adverse childhood experiences.