Dasani wakes up before dawn each day at a homeless shelter in Brooklyn, New York. After slipping out from under the covers, she goes to the window. On a clear day, she can see all...
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- Become withdrawn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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