7.2

Trauma in the Context of Relationships

happy family

Infants and young children experience their world as an environment of relationships and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development — intellectual, social, emotional, physical, behavioral, and moral. The quality and stability of these relationships in the early years lay the foundation for a wide range of later developmental outcomes (National Scientific Council

Trauma and a Child Development Perspective

child throwing a tantrum

It is important to understand the developmental nature of trauma in order to understand the child’s experience and consider a plan for intervention. Key areas to explore and understand are: The characteristics of the stress, fear, threat, or trauma to the child, The child’s genetic and developmental capacity to manage stress, How well the child’s

Stress and the Developing Brain

mother cuddling baby

Overwhelming stress and young children Early exposure to trauma — extremely fearful events — and high levels of stress affect the developing brain, particularly in those areas involved in emotions and learning. The amygdala and the hippocampus are two brain structures involved in fear and traumatic stress. The amygdala detects whether a stimulus (person or

Stress and the Developing Brain

mother cuddling baby

The developing brain The developing brain begins to form early in the prenatal period. With the basic structures of the brain in place, babies are born ready to learn. The infant’s early and ongoing experiences (sensory, motor, emotional, and cognitive) help to build connections in the brain, stimulating the “firing and wiring” of synapses that

Stress and the Developing Brain

The stress response The stress response refers to how stress influences the body and the brain: moving from basic body signals of “fight or flight”, to feelings, thinking, and actions. All of us experience stress. Under normal stress or sense of danger, the stress response includes body signals and feelings such as increased heart rate, hyper-vigilance,

This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.