As a Counselling Therapist who studies in Childhood trauma in Adults, I know how important it is to change and evolve as we move through life. As humans we are born to adapt and grow, as parents we need to first acknowledge our part in this process and how we were raised. If we have Trauma, Stresses, Emotional pain in our lives we could very well be passing this down to our children. Children are extremely sensitive, they are feelers from birth, if they feel unsafe, disconnected from a caregiver or abused they will stop living and start surviving Flight/ Flight. This state sets them up for adversity in life, you just may be that person yourself?
As early experiences shape the architecture of the developing brain, they also lay the foundations of sound mental health. Disruptions to this developmental process can impair a child’s capacities for learning and relating to others — with lifelong implications. By improving children’s environments of relationships and experiences early in life, society can address many costly problems, including incarceration, homelessness, and the failure to complete high school.
Significant mental health problems can and do occur in young children. Children can show clear characteristics of anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as autism, at a very early age. That said, young children respond to and process emotional experiences and traumatic events in ways that are very different from adults and older children. Consequently, diagnosis in early childhood can be much more difficult than it is in adults.
The interaction of genes and experience affects childhood mental health. Genes are not destiny. Our genes contain instructions that tell our bodies how to work, but the chemical “signature” of our environment can authorize or prevent those instructions from being carried out. The interaction between genetic predispositions and sustained, stress-inducing experiences early in life can lay an unstable foundation for mental health that endures well into the adult years.
Toxic stress can damage brain architecture and increase the likelihood that significant mental health problems will emerge either quickly or years later. Because of its enduring effects on brain development and other organ systems, toxic stress can impair school readiness, academic achievement, and both physical and mental health throughout the lifespan. Circumstances associated with family stress, such as persistent poverty, may elevate the risk of serious mental health problems. Young children who experience recurrent abuse or chronic neglect, domestic violence, or parental mental health or substance abuse problems are particularly vulnerable.
It’s never too late, but earlier is better. Some individuals demonstrate remarkable capacities to overcome the severe challenges of early, persistent maltreatment, trauma, and emotional harm, yet there are limits to the ability of young children to recover psychologically from adversity.
“Most potential mental health problems will not become mental health problems if we respond to them early.”