As the term itself suggests, childhood trauma describes the negative experiences of a person during his/her childhood that goes on to impact their lives as an adult. It comprises any event, action or instances that threaten a child’s mental and physical well-being.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years).
This could include: experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, witnessing violence in the home or community or having a family member attempt or die by suicide.
From physical, verbal, sexual to emotional abuse, many factors can contribute to a child’s mental and emotional instability.
However, what is important to note is that childhood trauma is not just an outcome or a result of abuse. Rather, it can be caused due to many other things that we tend to take for granted or overlook, for instance being denied emotional support.
Children are vulnerable, they’re innocent and unlike adults, they do not have the ability to express their needs and wants. They have their own battles to fight and are constantly looking for ways to find support and feel secure. If parents fail to provide them with their comfort and safety, it may cause a dent on their mental well-being and if it continues, it may become traumatic for them.
Having to hide one’s true self could also be traumatizing for a child
From a young age, children are introduced to a world of do’s and don’ts. They’re asked to behave according to the socially constructed roles and must adhere to what is widely expected of them. In trying to live up to people’s expectations, kids often try to hide their true self, take on the guise of something they’re not and pretend to be someone self so as to be liked and appreciated.
Along with this dual life that they live, they have to take on the burden to constantly prove themselves, to compete, even if it is not something that they want.
All of these things can take a toll on the child’s mind. It can be traumatic for them and may shape their personalities as adults.
How parents can prevent childhood trauma
The CDC states that adverse childhood experiences and trauma are preventable.
“We must understand and address the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence,” the US health agency recommends.
“Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full potential,” experts add further.
All in all, parents must be supportive of their kids, must encourage communication and most importantly, create a safe space for their children to grow.
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