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Anyone can experience trauma at any time. The trauma can be caused by nature, human beings or by oneself. People endure much when they experience trauma and their ability to handle it can determine the level of the effect of the trauma and their long-term well-being. Reportedly, children are incredibly susceptible to trauma because their brain and coping skills are still developing. Thus, they often grapple with long terms effects of uncontrolled trauma. While childhood trauma may vary regarding pervasiveness across regions, it can permanently disrupt the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children.
Childhood trauma refers to an activity or activities that make an infant to feel stranded and unable to deal with the situation. The effects of childhood trauma depend on one’s past experiences, traits, as well as, age. Trauma affects a child’s mind, spirit, body, as well as, relationship with others is affected, thus affecting various aspects of development. When children are under trauma, they display multiple changes in their physical well-being such as regular sickness and weak immune systems (Schore, 2001). Routine illness especially due to weak immune system affects interferes with cognitive development as children experience high levels of trauma that affect their brain in various ways. Moreover, traumatic experiences that children pass through in their early ages hinder their social growth by dictating their behaviors and emotions (Lupien, McEwen, Gunnar, & Heim, 2009). In essence, children who experience trauma or abuse at home always display peculiar behaviors that may negatively influence their social relationships and emotional development. Undoubtedly, the cognitive, social, and psychological stages of development are interrelated. Therefore, interfering with one would delay the remaining ones.
How it works
Yehuda, Halligan, & Grossman (2001) asserted that childhood trauma could either have positive or negative effects on childhood cognitive development. The structural arrangement of the brain from early childhood shapes and defines an individual. Children depict the environment where they are brought up in; when that environment is characterized by chaos, unpredictability, threat, trauma, and fear, the brain will manifest that by changing the development of neural systems involved in fear and stress response.
In human beings, the body responds to stress by triggering secretion of cortisol hormone. However, excessive secretion of this hormone can influence the activities of cells in our bodies. This implies that children who experience prolonged childhood trauma are likely to develop genetic disorders, both physical and mental (Anda et al. 2006). Similarly, the brain comprises numerous but varied circuits and pathways of neurons linked to one another. These neurons are susceptible to any interference. As such, prolonged childhood trauma can rewire the brain, exposing affected children to depression and anxiety. Early childhood is characterized by accelerated development. Psychologists indicate that the pruning of unused neurons and pathways increases during this period, and this makes the brain more efficient, particularly the part that supports concentration, attention, advanced thinking, and reasoning. Therefore, trauma during this period not only interferes with the development of stated part but also disrupts the strengthening of the systems that enable the indicated portion to coordinate with other systems effectively. Consequently, this lead to impulsivity, increased risk-taking, criminal activity, short attention span, difficulty in retaining or understanding information (Schore, 2001).
Childhood trauma makes it difficult for children to integrate emotions into their identities. Principally, when there is a feeling of lack of space on a child’s family background, emotions are becoming detached from identity (Lupien, McEwen, Gunnar, & Heim, 2009). This causes numerous effects to children that confuse, as well as, unstable sense of self because it makes it difficult for the children to predict or manage their intense emotions. Studies indicate that children and adults need emotional data to be themselves and make critical decisions. However, childhood trauma leads to emotional dysregulation, and this causes numerous challenges such as impulsive decision making and difficulty in interacting with people or making new relationships with others.
A study conducted by Anda et al. (2006) revealed that prolonged childhood trauma makes children feel that they lack emotions. They are likely to experience an inadequate range of emotions or feel subdued emotions. At the same time, they may able to feel vague emotions such as boredom or anger or may completely block contentment until rage explodes. Moreover, they are likely to feel undesirable emotions about themselves such as feeling nervous with appreciation from others, not understanding how to receive a compliment or feeling distrustful when persons express kindheartedness (Anda et al. 2006). More importantly, these persons are likely to adopt an exceedingly intellectualized identity behaving strangely around people. The behaviors described above lead to difficulty in getting along with people as emotions are essential for personal relationships and shape career choices while hindering future growth.
Typically, negative emotions linked to trauma are often displayed through behavior. Childhood trauma may cause disruptive behaviors including challenges with controlling impulses, and this may make children harm themselves or others around them. Scholars have reported that children who lack self-control often lack a sense of time, and display hostility towards their peers and others (Schore, 2001). Similarly, extended childhood trauma changes the behavior of children and make them react by doing things that contradict their usual styles entirely. As already discussed, aggressive children may release their anger on others around them by biting, pushing, hitting, kicking, or forcefully grabbing playing materials of their children. Socially, childhood trauma makes children lose interest in numerous things. In particular, it makes them lose focus in learning institutions, withdraw and lose interest in new friendship, unable to work on their own, display fear and timid towards their environment and unable to create new friendships or social relationships (Schore, 2001). Furthermore, other children may avoid them because of their aggressive behaviors or may lose interest in interacting with them due to their lack of responses. Without any doubt, the absence of social support may make a child suffer from trauma. When a child suffers from trauma, it is difficult for the brain to relay information to various components of the brain that consequently makes it difficult for the child to process information to make a decisive decision in both social and emotional aspects.
In conclusion, childhood trauma can negatively affect the development of children. Principally, consequences of uncontrolled childhood trauma can be linked to cognitive, social and emotional difficulties that detrimentally affect almost all facets of development thus resulting in problems throughout one’s life. For future implications, there is a need for parents, teachers or caregivers to establish when a child requires help. Early intervention will ultimately salvage severe complications. Secondly, professionals such as teachers and caregivers should create a compelling environment that supports the cognitive, social, and emotional development of children. For a fact, the early years of life is a critical period during which prolonged trauma may result in the dysregulation of the stress system and hinder the social, psychological and cognitive development of children.
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