Other than the role of “every person, every day,” this CEV Week we’re focusing on the impact of exposure to violence on children’s mental, physical and emotional development. To that end, we developed a new resource providing ways to prevent and address the impact of exposure to violence on a child’s development—from early childhood through adolescence.
The Impact of Exposure to Violence on Stages of Development chart provides an overview of the developmental process and ways to help children successfully achieve developmental milestones even in situations where violence and toxic stress intrude in the child’s life.
A developmental approach is based on the concept that as children grow and mature they are faced with emotional and physical tasks they must master before moving along to the next stage. The tasks build upon one another: a toddler learns to explore his world, which provides the foundation for school-aged children to make friends; this ability, in turn, allows an adolescent tries to form a separate identity and become more independent from his family.
When exposed to violence or other traumatic events, a child’s energy is diverted and they have less capacity to master the developmental challenges on which they are currently focused at their stage of development. We know that many children rebound from traumatic experiences and continue to achieve expected developmental milestones.
Developing trust is one of the most crucial of all developmental tasks. As caregivers meet the baby’s needs, their actions wire the brain for a lifelong secure sense of self through the consistent, pleasurable bonding between the baby and the adult. The quality of the attachment relationship developed with a caregiver is believed to set the framework for the child’s subsequent friendships during the pre-school and school years and for intimate relationships during adolescence.
Attachment also establishes the lifelong ability to share emotional intimacy, attain optimal intellectual potential, develop compassion, empathy, and the ability to trust in relationships, form self-identity and self-esteem, control emotions, develop language and motor control, and strengthen brain structures and promote organization of the nervous system.
It is important to support parents and caregivers committed to providing the environment the child needs to unlock their developmental journey by helping them understanding what, when and how to meet the needs of the child’s developmental tasks.
For more information on the impact of exposure to violence on a child’s development, join us at 1:30 p.m. EST tomorrow for a webinar, Unlocking the Development of Children Exposed to Violence.