It takes a village to raise a child, the old proverb tells us. But we need to expand our perspective, according to pediatric surgeon, social scientist and mom Dana Suskind. In her heartfelt work, Parent...
Read our white paper: Asking the Question that Counts: Educators and Early Childhood Trauma
Turning the Tide for Traumatized Children
Almost half of U.S. children — about 35 million — have suffered one or more types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and our youngest children are at especially high risk.
Over 1 in 4 of all confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect involve children under age three, and victimization is most common for children under a year.
Common types of ACEs experienced by young children
- Accidental injuries: drowning, falls, choking and poisoning
- Natural disasters
- Violence/Dramatic loss
- Discrimination/Forced displacement
ACEs make a devastating impact because developing brains are highly susceptible to toxic stress.
The more ACEs a child suffers the more devastating the impact:
- 12x More likely to attempt suicide
- 7x More likely to become an alcoholic
- 5x More likely to be poor
- 3x More likely to become pregnant as a teen
- 3x More likely to be expelled from school
- 2x More likely to be at risk of heart disease and cancer
Examples of challenging behaviors that result from toxic stress:
- Suffer anxiety in unfamiliar situations
- Difficult to soothe
- Aggressive or impulsive
- Prone to bedwetting
- Become withdrawn
- Tend to lose recently acquired skills
For a traumatized child to bounce back, they need at least one adult who gives them affection, a sense of belonging and support.
Children who attend quality early learning programs are 75% less likely to…
- Drop out of high school
- Be arrested for violent crimes
- Become teen parents
- Be unemployed compared to their peers who did not attend preschool
In a quality early learning program, children…
- Feel safe and secure
- Build strong bonds with the early educator
- Receive positive attention and guidance
Consider these tips when working with traumatized children:
- Establish a Daily Routine: A daily routine provides predictability, that can be calming.
- Lead with Empathy: Put yourself in a child’s shoes and try not to judge the trauma.
- Concentrate on Support: You don’t need to know exactly what caused the trauma to be able to help.
- Provide Encouragement: Help children feel they’re good at something and can influence the world.
- Help Build Self-Regulation: Schedule regular brain breaks to help children stay focused.
- See What You Can Do To Help: Ask children directly what you can do to help them make it through the day.
Early educators who create caring environments can make a concrete difference in the lives of the young children they serve.
See our white paper, Asking the Question that Counts: Educators and Early Childhood Trauma, for more information on early childhood trauma and ways you can help.
Council for Professional Recognition. Washington, D.C, November 2019. www.cdacouncil.org
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