Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Effects of Trauma and Stress on Early Childhood Education

Stress and trauma can affect the normal functioning of the human brain. That can have a major adverse impact on learning, thereby creating behavioral issues, and even triggering a phase of violence. Poverty, insecurity, and instability at home or in the community around are a few of the factors that cause brain-damaging stress for children.

It may lead ultimately to a great deal of violence. Making those kids understand the impact of trauma can help them in realizing their emotional needs and faring well in their schooling. The outcomes of childhood trauma can be a lot deeper, especially in early childhood education.


Those small kids who have suffered from emotional trauma can have gaps in their intellectual abilities. They may find it hard to focus on simple tasks. Apart from this, they may lose proper memory function. They may be given to fits of anger or terror. Trauma can have lasting consequences on their developing brain.

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Anxiety state: fight or flight response

Kids who suffer trauma for long may live constantly in a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mode. Their stress hormones keep flowing all the time. In other words, these young children may get triggered by minor things such as a loud noise, or difficulty in understanding a simple project or a group assignment.

They may relive an intense emotion linked to a truly terrifying event. Findings show that any kind of trauma can affect both the chemistry and structure of a kid’s brain. Anxiety and fear over a period can affect a child’s brain development, often leaving a deep cut.

Learning and memory function

Because of extremities of the fight or flight response of kids, the memory and learning centers of their brain are turned down. When the main task of their brain is to manage fear and anger and produce a feeling of security, how can there be normal development of their brain?

Thus, kids can become often disengaged, forgetful, or have a hard time concentrating on the tasks given. With time, such adverse effects may leave a permanent scar on their brain. They will find it more and more difficult to learn as they need to ‘fight’ constantly for ‘survival’. Real life traumatic events at home or in the community around do harm particularly a kid’s ability to learn in the short and long terms.

Traumatic events can keep the brain in an extremely intensified ever-alert-and-aware state. They activate the limbic system and attack the brain with cortisol, a stress hormone. Excessive cortisol can be toxic to the brain and it damages mainly the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Such brain areas relate directly to executive function and memory.

Counselors and teachers in the field of early childhood education should help the traumatized kids grapple with th­­eir traumatic experience. The kids should forget it altogether and come out of it as early as possible to understand better needs of their schooling. They must feel sufficiently confident and motivated to strive, learn, and thrive.

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