Childhood trauma is, in addition to prenatal and birth trauma, the most critical trauma category to be cleared. Working with many clients and assisting them to clear their past trauma, clearly showed that childhood trauma is usually the heaviest area to work on. And childhood trauma impacts all areas of your life in a limiting and negative way. As a rule of thumb–the more childhood trauma happened, the more adulthood drama occurs.
What is childhood trauma?
Childhood trauma is defined as severe adverse childhood experiences. What does that mean?
The list of adverse childhood experiences that cause childhood trauma is long. It begins with the obvious, physical abuse such as being beaten or whipped and sexual child abuse of any kind.
The list continues with neglect and abandonment, which can also be a follow-up of severe prenatal and birth trauma. If you were already unwanted as a baby, and your mother tried to get rid of you while pregnant, your childhood was probably based on neglect, rejection, or abandonment. Mental abuse and emotional abuse are also important facets of childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma can also occur if you, as a child, had to witness how your mother was beaten up or even sexually abused. And if the same happened to your siblings and you had to see it.
Additionally, childhood trauma occurs when parents break up and go through a challenging divorce in which they use their children as a lever against each other. Lots of emotional and mental abuse are the consequence.
Another area of childhood trauma is mobbing and bullying in kindergarten or school. And kindergarten trauma can occur on day one.
Let me share my own experience with this:
When my mother brought me to kindergarten, I had no idea what this was all about, nor did I know that I had to stay there and my mother would leave me there. As soon as I realized that, I was shocked and cried the rest of the first week at kindergarten. Childhood trauma was created. My mother was always proud that I was “easy to handle” and could play with myself while she was working. I did not learn how to interact with other children, as I didn’t know other kids of my age before being brought to kindergarten– unprepared.
It was the same on my first day at school. Although I knew that there were other children and I knew that I needed to stay there, the kindergarten trauma repeated itself; my whole body/mind/spirit system was in alert mode. I was so nervous that I overreacted to everything–because of past fear.
That’s what trauma creates–fear. And in a state of fear, your fear wants to keep you safe. Your fear wants you to stay where you are. You are in a state of avoidance and –procrastination.
All these traumatic events have a profound and lasting impact on the children’s life, health, and well-being. Science mentions a list of unsocial behaviors, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sleep disturbances. I will explain in a minute why trauma creates behavioral challenges that are not perceived to be “normal.” Yes, it’s what a brain on trauma leads to.
It’s now proven by studies that childhood trauma is a root cause of many emotional, mental, and cognitive impairments that can also lead to self-destructive behaviors. And childhood trauma also leads to violence or re-victimization, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and premature mortality.
And the more childhood trauma you experienced, the bigger the risk of running into traumatic experiences as an adult. It’s your brain on trauma.
Examples of childhood traumas
Mother is a control freak
One of my clients’ mothers was an absolute control freak. She was always in fear that something could happen to her daughter. She didn’t allow her daughter to go outside to play with other children. And that was combined with a father whose usual mode was to be very angry, which caused emotional and mental trauma. Repeatedly. Imagine what that means for building close relationships later in life… Precisely, the childhood trauma repeated itself as an adult, creating some sort of relationship trauma.
Another client’s mother was very stressed with her children, and she did not allow her children to wake her up during her afternoon nap. When my client’s brother had an accident while playing outside and needed help, the sisters were afraid to wake up her mother even in that situation. Had my client ever experienced challenges to take action when needed? Absolutely. That childhood trauma kept her for many years in a toxic relationship.
Another client shared with me that her mother, due to her own trauma, was absolutely not able to raise her little girl, and she often locked her up for hours in the garage. A whole series of childhood trauma was created that way.
The combined prenatal, birth trauma, and childhood traumas are the heaviest.
Not wanted, given away, brought back, and abused
Another client was born with complications, not wanted at all, given away to a foster family (and not loved there), and later brought to her genetic mother and a stepdad. You can imagine what happened–physical abuse until she could get out of it as a young adult. Ask about her relationships later in her life. Traumatic, to say the least.
Being mobbed at kindergarten and school
I experienced this myself, and I heard it several times from my clients. These situations are complex, but there is always one common denominator: one or more children are already traumatized. As soon as more challenges in these social groups occur, mobbing and abuse can occur. As many of these children are already traumatized by their families, there is no way they would be heard, understood, or even seen for what was going on at school.
Why is childhood trauma different and more significant?
Until the age of around seven years old, children have a brain that’s developing. They have not yet filters that help them filter incoming messages in different categories. They basically take everything in as truth. In any traumatic experience, what is said to them is taken in as truth. That’s what makes childhood trauma even more significant.
Your brain on trauma–or why you have trauma symptoms
You often heard me explaining how traumatic experiences, as discussed here, create “trauma trigger buttons” that can be pushed later on in similar situations–and lead to the same or heavier fear-based reactions. What’s happening in the brain?
Your amygdala, a small part of your limbic brain, serves as your “smoke detector,” as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk calls it. If your amygdala senses a threat, it sends out instant messages to other body parts to orchestrate a whole body-stress-response. That leads to an increase of, for instance, cortisol, adrenaline, heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, etc., to prepare your body to either fight or run away.
Then, there is also a “watchtower,” your medial prefrontal cortex, to assist with the stress response. This watchtower is a sense maker, something the amygdala does not do. The watchtower helps to figure out whether the fast-approaching car behind you is a real danger to you or not. It makes a judgment whether your house is on fire or if there is only smoke in the kitchen because your dinner burnt.
And the amygdala, your smoke detector, is faster than your watchtower. Suppose your amygdala is not on trauma. In that case, both parts of the brain collaborate perfectly to make sure that you are a) immediately in alert mode but b) only in really dangerous situations.
If you are traumatized and suffer from PTSD, this essential balance between the smoke detector and watch tower is no longer working correctly. With a brain on trauma, this balance has shifted radically, leading to extreme reactions that seem inappropriate from the outside.
Knowing that your brain is a brain on trauma, with a highly sensitive central nervous system, your amygdala is due to past trauma “miscalibrated” and tends to signal that you are in danger continually. And the problem with a brain on trauma is that the watchtower, your medial prefrontal cortex, often gets deactivated and has no chance to re-establish balance and judgment.
That’s why if you suffer from (childhood) trauma, you experience typical trauma-based symptoms, such as fear-based (over)reactions, anxiety, depression, avoidance, procrastination, emotional outbursts, feeling offended by what others say or do, challenges to focus and concentrate, memory issues, and more (see my video on the 11 symptoms of trauma).
As long as these past traumas are not cleared, you are basically trapped in your current (over)reactions that are based on your past (childhood) trauma.
Your current drama is the result of your past trauma
How much longer do you want to keep your past trauma? Are you ready to CLEAR your past trauma? Click here to give me a little info on yourself to see if and how I can help you!
More on my trauma clearing services here.
© Energy Field Mastery, Tamara Schenk