Turning the Tide for Traumatized Children

August 25, 2020

Read our white paper: Asking the Question that Counts: Educators and Early Childhood Trauma

Infrographic transcription:

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  • Become withdrawn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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