Ignoring Adverse Childhood Experiences Doesn't Help: boy sitting in broken car - Photo by Ahmed akacha

Ignoring Adverse Childhood Experiences Doesn’t Help

Ignoring Adverse Childhood Experiences doesn’t help children to process the trauma they have experienced despite what some parents believe in terms of ‘brushing it under the carpet and moving on’

It may seem counter-intuitive to parents who are used to telling their children to ‘pick themselves up, and dust themselves down’ but children also need time to process the experience they have just been through.

It’s important to spend time with the children to help them to feel safe again. This is likely to be a long process that will not be as simple as getting better each day but rather will step forwards and backwards as the children adjust and rebuild their trust and understanding of the world around them and the ‘rules’ that they had in place that were ostensibly ‘broken’ but the traumatic events.

Listen to the children to gain an understanding of how they experienced the trauma. You may find that they had a different physical and emotional impact than you did for the same event and you may also find that gaps in their knowledge or understanding (due to age, maturity, and life experience) may have led them to fill knowledge gaps with their imagination – so part of the trauma could now be re-triggered by associative events, items, sounds, smells, etc. that you wouldn’t rationally associate with the trauma yourself.

Ignoring adverse childhood experiences can contribute to poor levels of engagement in their education due to adverse mental health and can even impact the wider family such as their grandparents’ mental health and so helping the children to recover and rebuild resilience is time well invested in the children’s futures.

One group of students in Ukraine worked with a photographer to make sure that their adverse childhood experiences of war and destruction were not ignored and were celebrated in the format of a graduation photoshoot across the city; celebrating the graduating students against the backdrop of the reality of their trauma.

Think carefully about how you engage with your children after trauma and seek professional support from a BACP/UKCP/BPC registered therapist.