15. Trauma


TRAUMA -  An Overwhelming Amount of Stress that Exceeds One's Ability to Cope


What happens when a child serves and no one steps up to return the ball? Over time, failing to respond when a child reaches out will weaken brain architecture and impair the development of skills, abilities, behaviour and health. Some children are deprived of "serve-and-return" experiences due to chaotic environments, violence in the home, or caregivers struggling with a mental health problem or addiction.


Because responsive relationships are both expected and essential, their absence is a serious threat to a child’s development and well-being. Healthy brain architecture depends on a sturdy foundation built by appropriate input from a child’s senses and stable, responsive relationships with caring adults. If an adult’s responses to a child are unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, the developing architecture of the brain may be disrupted, and subsequent physical, mental, and emotional health may be impaired. The persistent absence of "serve and return" interaction acts as a “double whammy” for healthy development: not only does the brain not receive the positive stimulation it needs, but the body’s stress response is activated, flooding the developing brain with potentially harmful stress hormones.



Most of us spend a growing portion of our day looking at screens, such as computer monitors, televisions, tablets or smartphones. These devices are also attractive to children as they offer entertainment and, in some cases, a degree of interaction. However, devices also have the potential to interfere with "serve-and-return" interactions. A caregiver who is interacting with a smartphone may miss a child’s cues or "serves". Over time, these missed opportunities for child-adult interaction can add up and have a negative impact on brain development. Similarly, children who spend time on devices may "serve" less frequently which also limits the number of child-adult interactions they experience during crucial periods of development.


There is a new phenomenon called AI: Artificial Intimacy. A child can 'bond' with their screen and this limits their ability to read human emotional signals. Technology cannot replace a deep, human connection and should be limited for young children.


"A traumatic event can devastate personal growth, relationships, learning and everything else above the lowest section of the Maslow triangle. If not resolved, this can become PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)."

Food For Thought


What new knowledge did you gain from this lesson?


Now that you know this, how could it be applied?