Reducing Effects of Stress

Children who have experienced the negative effects of stress can still grow and thrive. Consistent, loving support from caring adults can counteract much of the damage caused by stress in early childhood. A strong, stable adult can make a difference to a child who has been exposed to violence, neglect, or other extreme stress.

An individual’s brain is resilient and can recover from stressful experiences. The brain’s plasticity enables it to compensate for some damage caused by traumatic experiences by creating new networks of synapses. Although compensating for early trauma requires intensive, long-term intervention, children who experience trauma or chronic stress early in life can overcome the trauma and live healthy, productive lives.

Many children who successfully overcome early trauma have an internal quality called resiliency that enables them to survive and thrive. Dr. Bruce D. Perry of the Child Trauma Academy wrote, “When you look at children who come out of terrible environments and do well, you find that someone in their lives somehow instilled in them the attitude that they aren’t helpless, that they aren’t powerless, that they can do something.”