Children can experience trauma as early as infancy. In fact, young children between the ages of 0 and 5 are the most vulnerable to the effects of trauma since their brains are still in the early formative years. What a child experiences as overwhelming stress can literally reduce the size of their brain cortex, resulting in problems with memory, attention, thinking, language, and their ability to regulate their emotions – potentially throughout their lives. The problem is that babies and young children don’t have the understanding to process what’s going on around them, nor do they have the language to express what they are feeling. That’s why parents and caregivers have to Look Through Their Eyes and Listen With Your Heart to make sure your littlest children aren’t experiencing trauma or its negative effects. You can learn more about early childhood trauma from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network here.
Young Children PSA
What Are the Common Causes of Trauma in Young Children?
Accidents, physical trauma, abuse and neglect and exposure to domestic or community violence are the most common forms of traumatic stresses for young children. But any situation which makes a child feel unsafe can lead to trauma. For example, infants and toddlers need lots of comforting touch and adult attention to make them feel safe as they explore the world around them. Without this support, a child may feel too vulnerable, making it stressful to try new activities and new behaviors. For infants, even repeated loud noises or sudden, violent movements can lead to toxic stress as can incidents associated with difficult medical problems.