As adults we often forget about how impressionable children’s minds can be. They are always watching, replicating, and learning from those around them. In fact, according to Healthline Parenthood, the most crucial milestones in a kid’s life occur by the age of 7. Creating a safe space for a child’s development is as important as providing them food and shelter.
When we are children, we look to our families, and the adults in our life to provide a safe space to learn, and grow into adulthood. Stability plays a major role in this development. Whether your childhood experiences were negative or positive, they can greatly affect your relationships as an adult. When it comes to trauma, the effects stay with you for a lifetime and it is important to address the trauma so you may learn to cope in your daily life. In this blog we discuss childhood trauma, how it may impact your relationships as an adult, and how to begin healing from those experiences.
When it comes to trauma, there are many different types that can occur. Whether it is physical, sexual, or mental abuse, a prolonged severe illness, witnessing domestic violence, or experiencing intensive bullying, individuals process these events in different ways. As adults, these situations can be difficult to handle but as children, not only is trauma difficult to handle it is hard for children to process.
There are many associated feelings that accompany trauma such as guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, and more. Every child handles trauma differently, not one person or incident is the same. Children who were once social and outgoing may suddenly not want to play with other children or speak to adults. Another child may appear “clingy” and seek validation from the adults around them to feel more secure. Feeling’s associated with trauma often grow and in turn affect relationships as they progress into adulthood.
IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS
As previously discussed, our childhood experiences majorly influence our actions and relationships as adults. There are numerous coping mechanisms associated with trauma that alienated the individual from other people in their lives. If an individual experienced abuse, they may be sensitive and fearful that someone may act out in rage – just as they experienced as a child. If an individual witnessed their parents fighting, arguing and in the process of a “messy” divorce, it may affect their ability to have a healthy relationship with a loved one.
Children who experience traumatic incidents may develop dysfunctional attachment styles. Developing healthy attachments requires feelings of security and safety. Avoidant attachment occurs when a child does not receive the benefit of a secure attachment, and become self- sufficient, and independent. Once they have reached adulthood, they continue to self-rely and do not attach themselves to others easily. Ambivalent attachment occurs when you experience a mix of neglect and attention. This can be confusing to a child’s development. Once they reach adulthood they tend to experience anxiety in relationships and require a lot of soothing and attention. These are just two of multiple dysfunctional attachment styles that may arise from childhood trauma. So how do we cope with trauma so we may learn from our past experiences?
HOW TO BEGIN HEALING
By exploring the traumatic incident, an individual can learn a lot about how they process their emotions, how they manage additional traumatic situations, and how they maintain current relationships. Addressing the situation may be painful but by exploring the trauma, an individual will have more positive interactions with others, strengthen their resilience, and become more confident in themselves. Healing from trauma can be a difficult experience for an individual.
Self-care plays an important role in mental health. Taking time for yourself to reflect on your emotions can greatly benefit your mental well-being. Examples of self-care could be a day at the spa, a night in watching movies, participating in yoga, or taking time for meditation. Find what activity provides you the most comfort, downtime, and self-reflection. Everyone’s self-care looks different but the result can be extremely beneficial to the healing process.
If you find that self-care is assisting with your mental health but you still need more assistance, you may want to seek professional help. Therapists can help with breaking down the emotions associated with childhood trauma. There are many therapeutic approaches to addressing childhood trauma. They provide a safe space for you to share your experiences so you may continue healing.
As impressionable children we are greatly affected by our surroundings. When it comes to trauma, the emotional and physical effects can last a lifetime. By seeking professional help, addressing the traumatic incident, and learning new behaviours, one can begin to heal and learn the signs of unhealthy relationships. Understanding and acknowledging the impact of the trauma on the relationship is the first step to healing. If you would like to learn more about childhood trauma or would like to talk to a professional, please contact us HERE.