Trauma Parenting on Radio 4

Trauma Parenting on Radio 4 150 150 Jane Evans

I consider myself to be an optimistic person and grateful person, mostly! I am truly grateful every day of my life for a wide range of things, such as, I get to live another day as at times this seemed unlikely. In the spirit of ‘being optimistic’, there are times when I REALLY believe that the understanding about the effects of early childhood children IS becoming more widespread.

Recently there was an excellent programme on Radio 4 about childhood trauma, ‘Unhappy Child, Unhealthy Adult’, featuring Graham Music, who was one of my early ‘discoveries’ when I read his excellent book, Nurturing Natures, and there was an interesting report by BBC News ‘The PTSD brains of children and soldiers.’

The Radio 4 programme shared the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES), which is widely known amongst the ‘trauma world’ as a hugely significant study. It has provided robust evidence on, what many of us have seen for years but could not prove, that multiple adversities in childhood makes us sick and vulnerable in a variety of ways.

Quite honestly it makes my ‘heart sing’ that discussions and explorations of childhood trauma IS becoming mainstream at last. Bizarrely though, the research is often referred to in the context of ‘new findings’, even though the ACE Study began 20 years ago and many of the findings on trauma began to emerge 30 years ago.

In 2016 we have the ability to look inside of working brains so we can be more sure than ever before of what developing brains ‘like’ and need for optimum healthy development, and what they don’t like and therefore impedes their healthy development. Such knowledge provides a great foundation for thinking about children’s mental health and well-being and for better understanding their behaviours.

Developing brains don’t like:

  • To be isolated
  • To feel overwhelmed for more than short periods
  • To experience prolonged periods of emotional or physical discomfort and pain
  • To have too much unpredictability in daily life and interactions
  • To have very little input and stimulation
  • To have too much input and stimulation
  • To be exposed to repetitive fear

Developing brains do like:

  • To be with other brains
  • To be soothed when overwhelmed by emotions
  • New experiences
  • Stimulation by someone attentive to levels of interest and overwhelm
  • To explore
  • To receive compassionate correction when things go wrong to enhance learning and reduce shame
  • To spend time with those whose brains and bodies are attuned to them

When a child experiences what developing brains ‘DON’T LIKE’ it causes them stress and if this happens repeatedly that becomes traumatic. Their survival system is activated far too often, for far too long without the kind of relief needed to ‘switch off’ again, this becomes a pattern and part of the brain’s architecture, which causes problems as the child will become hyper vigilant and easily over, or under, react to events in daily life.

Let’s not ‘Um and Ah’ anymore! Let’s act and use the great science and research there is which shows, children need calm, emotionally responsive adults, who are kind, and teach them compassionately about life and relationships. It really is that simple!

To find out more about how to support children, young people and parents impacted by repetitive trauma, book your place now for this unique practice-informed Trauma Masterclass on May 13th in Cardiff, with Jane Evans and Mike Armiger – places are limited!

Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans

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