Children are born into this world pure and untainted, hopefully. Some babies are born with addictions in place, others with diminished immune systems or other physical defects. But the heart and soul of a child are perfect. Children love unconditionally, accept without judgement. Pure, complete love is all a baby has to offer and they offer it fully. Situations occur in a child’s life that cause them trauma, impacting the vision of their soul. The nurture side of life begins to wreak havoc in a little one’s existence. Basically, life happens. Bad parenting, physical challenges due to illness, breakdown in the family unit, traumatizing experiences all impact a child’s soul. We change children by how we treat them. This baits the question, why do some children fare better than others?
Differences in Trauma
A trauma is simply an even with great impact to a person. A trauma can be a car accident, a death, or being present during an attack. Certain traumas impact children more than others. Factors such as the age of the child when the trauma occurs, the people involved, and the duration of the traumatic event all impact the everlasting effects. An eight year old child walks into a room and finds her grandmother has passed away while watching television is a traumatic experience. But an eight year old witnessing her grandmother fall down a flight of stairs, and not surviving, is bound to be more traumatizing. A child is spanked as discipline, a total of 20 times in his life. This could be traumatizing, as being hit can cause trauma in anyone. But a child who’s repeatedly beaten for no reason innumerable times will be more traumatized. The degree of the trauma plays a role in moving beyond the trauma. The greater the intensity of the experience, the greater the impact and the longer lasting the effects.
Effects of Trauma
Children are resilient, strong, amazing beings. People need to remember something though, when someone hurts a child they change that child. An abusive parent, an addictive parent, an absent parent all change their children. Every life experience changes a being, whether a little or a lot, for the better or for the worse. We change children by how we treat them. A girl grows up in an anxious, tense house. She internalizes this and grows up to have anxiety issues, possibly depression. She develops obsessive compulsive disorder, and has issues with interpersonal relationships. The anxiety of her home has changed her, molded her into a direct representation of her environment. Children of addicts often become addicted. The lifestyle of the addict is to “medicate” with their addiction of choice in order to cope with life. A child is impacted by growing up learning this as a coping mechanism, which it is not. The child has not been given the tools to cope with life and follows directly down the same path exemplified, unless there is a detour. Children of abusers grow up to abuse, why? Unless a detour is provided, they grow up learning when one is angry, hitting is appropriate. Excessive violence becomes acceptable because it is what they are taught. We change children by how we treat them. This holds true with things like spoiling as well, but for now we are strictly speaking on traumatic events.
Detours come from many sources. Family, friends, teachers, religious educators, neighbors, even a stranger. A detour is an alternate path. A different way than what the usual road. The saying, “It takes a village raise a child,” exists for a reason. It is the obligation of the village to ensure the safety of the children. It is the duty of the village to provide a detour, a safe haven, a rescue when necessary. We see a child suffering, we must step in, and provide a detour. We must make it our responsibility to give each child the tools necessary to make good choices, to overcome any trauma in their lives. It is our obligation to show children their worth. It falls on us as adults, why? It goes back to another saying, “You break it, you buy it.” Our society is broken, and we broke it. It is our responsibility, child by child, to fix it. No blaming this party or that, just fix it. No child deserves to grow up broken. No child deserves to walk down the path of trauma simply because they are following the only example put forth. Stand up, step in, step up. Be a person a child can count on, and not just your own child. Provide a detour when you see the road ahead is damaged and should be closed.
We Change Children by How We Treat Them.
Remember that every time you look into a child’s eyes. Volunteer to be a Big Brother/Big Sister, spend time in your child’s school volunteering, or even just open your home to your child’s friends offering them a solid, structured, fun place. Kids gravitate to healthy environments as long as they get the attention they crave. Donate money, time, attention, whatever you can spare. These kids grow up into the adults that run our world. We change children by how we treat them.