Several years ago, a brave single friend of mine adopted two young children from a Russian orphanage. She understood that there would be challenges caused by known and unknown circumstances that the children had lived through. But she was hopeful enough to take a chance that the children would bounce back from the effects of those circumstances in the new and loving home she could provide. She was right. And she was wrong.
Growing up in chaotic, abusive, and other constantly stressful conditions often leads to behavior and learning problems. However, she also thought, as many of us do, that with therapy and TLC, everything eventually would be just fine, or at least significantly better. And that’s not necessarily the case.
Scientific research offers pretty compelling proof that ongoing stress during early childhood development can have lifelong effects on not only our minds, but also on our bodies.
“The damage that happens to kids from the infectious disease of toxic stress is as severe as the damage from meningitis or polio or pertussis,” says Dr. Tina Hahn, a pediatrician in rural Caro, Michigan. This stress can lead to some of the major causes of death and disease in adulthood, including heart attacks and diabetes.
The early traumas of my friend’s children resulted in both chronic physical ailments and problematic behaviors that have rose and fell throughout the past eighteen years. Traditional therapies and medications didn’t do much until they were coupled with holistic approaches such as Healing Touch and meditation.
What we know now is that what the brain may not remember, the body doesn’t forget. We’ve also learned that adverse childhood experience is more common than we knew, more damaging than we understood, and more healable than we ever believed possible.
Though there are skeptics, I firmly believe that understanding the mind/body/spirit connection is the key to changing how we perceive ourselves and how we move through the world. I’ve seen it work in myself as I made specific changes in my diet, my response to stress, and became educated about mind-body practices. I’ve also seen it in children as they learn how to recognize their stress and how to navigate around it. I’ve seen it lead to powerful resilience in both children and adults.
And speaking of resilience . . .
Simply Successful Kids is proud to be a sponsor of the documentary “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” to West Michigan. Our goal is to help build awareness of the impact of toxic stress on children, begin crucial conversations to make stress education part of the school curriculum, and help those affected to begin the healing process, no matter what their age.
Please join us for the Resilience screening on Monday, December 4, 2017 at Celebration Cinema Rivertown. For event details click here:
Special thanks to our community Resilience co-sponsors: Celebration Cinema, Woman’s Life Chapters 839 and 881, Family Futures
About the Author: Deb Timmerman is an RN and Healing Touch Practitioner. She is the Co-Creator of the Simply Successful Kids Program. You can read her bio here.
Coming next: Specific ways to bounce back.