Children’s brains develop and build over time; positive loving interactions with their caregivers provide a solid start in life. All children need safe nurturing experiences, to feel loved, important and able to trust adults.
If children grow up in a stressful environment, where they do not feel safe or happy this can lead to problems throughout their lives. The child begins to feel insignificant and that the world is not a safe place. Some stress and adversity is normal and seeing parents cope well can help children face future challenges.
Examples of adverse childhood experiences are physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect. Other examples are things that happen within the home such as alcohol or drug problems, bereavement, family members in prison or witnessing domestic violence. These incidents can happen once or continually throughout childhood.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can lead to toxic stress, which is a heightened state of stress (imagine being chased by a tiger). Stress hormones surge through the body putting the person on ‘red alert’ but this response is only supposed to happen for short periods of time when danger is a reality, such as jumping out of the way of an approaching car.
An American study found that as the number of stressful events in childhood increased, incidents of health and emotional issues increased throughout life. Those who had four or more ACEs are more likely to have health problems (heart, diabetes etc.), go to prison or have addiction problems. A person may have only had one incident but it has completely blighted their lives such as living in care or being a young carer.
Although a tough childhood can become a challenging adulthood there is still plenty of opportunity for healing. Mindfulness can be very beneficial and can heal the areas of the brain affected by ACEs and bring changes to the genes that regulate the stress response. Some people find keeping a journal can help them explore deep emotions and how the event(s) has affected them, others find yoga beneficial. Some clients have a bad memory that keeps coming back uninvited as if in a continual loop. The Rewind Technique can make it a memory you can choose to visit or not, but without the difficult emotions normally attached to it.
Some problems feel too big to tackle alone, working through the adversities and planning a better future with a trained therapist is helpful.
To find out how I can help, give me a call: 0797 4443363