When children experience traumatic events, the impact is compounded and magnified because the young brain is still developing.
When we experience trauma, our brains sense danger and release stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, to help us get to safety through fight, flight or freeze responses. In a young mind, these stress hormones, especially if they are released on a frequent basis, can impair neural pathways being built, causing cognitive, social and emotional delays.
But as the brain can be hurt by traumatic experiences, the brain can be healed through safe and nurturing relationships. Adversity is only part of the equation. The presence and power of one’s protective factors determines how well we can navigate the adversities we face. Protective factors include natural abilities (athletic, artistic, academic), exposure to positive peer opportunities (after-school clubs, programs, sports teams) and most importantly a safe, supportive relationship with an adult.