Childhood trauma and brain development

Research is increasingly showing the huge impact trauma can have on the development of children. The following three short videos (under 2 minutes each) from the Center on the Developing Child  help to explain the impact of trauma on brain development.

The first video explains how early experiences help build the basic architecture of our brains.

The second video shows how interaction between babies and other people (“serve and return”) is vital for our brain development.

The final video demonstrates that impact trauma or “toxic stress” can have on brain development in children.

I recently watched the movie Trading Places which was inspired by the Nature vs Nurture debate raging in the 1970s and 1980s. As these videos demonstrate, it isn’t Nature vs Nurture: it is Nature AND Nurture.

Family and community workers, teachers, health professionals and many others need to be aware that:

Without caring adults to buffer children, the unrelenting stress caused by extreme poverty, neglect, abuse, or severe maternal depression can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health. (Center on the Developing Child).

One of the implications is that we need to adopt a holistic approach to working with children. We can’t take their actions and behaviour in isolation but need to recognise the context of their lives.

You might also want to look at the still face experiment which shows how aware babies are of their social environment.

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. “I try and make it feel more like a home” – families living in caravan parks
  2. Playgroups as a foundation for working with hard to reach families
  3. Parenting for a better world
  4. What’s your parenting style?
  5. Domestic violence, family, friends and neighbours
  6. A resilience practice framework by the Benevolent Society

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Families & parenting and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Childhood trauma and brain development

  1. Great post Graeme! Have you looked at It’s been around for years and is now free fro anyone. It’s a great primer on the impact of childhood trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joy says:

    Great presentation

    Liked by 1 person

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