How Will EMDR Help Our Children? >>> What is Child Trauma and Abuse?

What is Child Trauma?

What Is Child Abuse?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)

What Is Child Trauma?

As Scott Peck said in his famous book The Road Less Traveled , “Life is difficult.” As adults we are aware of this yet our natural instinct as parents is to protect our children, while preparing them for a life that may be very difficult. In effective parenting, there is a delicate balance between protective nurturing and preparatory toughening of a child, and in a world that is changing so quickly parents are easily confused by their job descriptions. We know that “resilience” is a quality that is highly desirable for our children, but developing that quality in a child is often very challenging.

Traumatic Events

Although parents may find it unbearably painful to think about their child being traumatized, many children have experienced traumatic events. Of course not every child who has had one of these experiences is traumatized, and sadly, a child is sometimes overwhelmed by an experience that is relatively benign to an adult where even so-called "normal" experiences can have a debilitating effect. An example of this might be a child being deeply traumatized by a divorce, an invasive medical or dental procedure or the loss of a pet. Generally, a traumatic event is unplanned, unintentional, accidental, or happen out of the parent’s awareness or control.

What Is Child Abuse?

Abuse is a term that is used to describe hurtful interpersonal behavior that is intentional or neglectful. We often think of “child abuse” as intentional, and indeed, it can be as with predatory sexual abuse. However often parents are repeating what they learned as children and are simply unskilled, or numbed to the pain they are inflicting because of their own trauma history.

Harsh Discipline

Research has shown that fear is not a good long-term motivator, yet many parents who were raised with fear and inconsistency lack other kinds of parenting tools. Parents who, as children, were punished with harshness, cruelty



or meanness will be challenged to demonstrate consistency, justice and kindness to their children. Parents who, as children, were neglected, overindulged or violated – physically, emotionally or sexually – may find it very hard to set appropriate boundaries.

Harsh Words

A common misconception is that an event must involve death or violence to have a significant impact, but many survivors of physical violence say the emotional abuse has far more devastating impact. A child who is regularly shamed, belittled, humiliated, intimidated or sexually harassed, or whose efforts are met with disrespect or harsh judgment, may be a victim of emotional (psychological and mental) abuse.

Many people wonder about the causes of child abuse. Although that question has yet to have a clear answer, it is not uncommon for a well-meaning parent to find that some of their own behaviors may have been experienced as very painful to their children. And, there is some anecdotal evidence that having been abused yourself puts you at higher risk of later reenacting the abuse with your own children.  If you have a history of trauma, please consider appropriate therapy as part of your parenting plan.

Although not every child will experience an event as traumatic, sensitive parents will review the lists of child traumas carefully:

Types of Child Traumas and Abuses

If you have a child who has experienced trauma or abuse, or the child is angry, depressed, anxious, or experiencing disrupted sleep, or strange or aggressive behavior... please consider an evaluation by a child therapist. Resolving trauma is much simpler in childhood, than later in adulthood.

The EMDR Therapist Network

We invite you to explore this site and learn more about how unresolved issues from your past and present may keep you from enjoying success and happiness now, and in the future. We trust you will be pleased with the compassionate and effective care offered by our therapists.

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