What exactly is the inner child? How do childhood experiences change us and impact us as adults? Childhood experiences form our values and worldview, teaching us that the world and other people are either safe or dangerous. For those individuals that experience trauma in childhood, the absence of supportive adult relationships may impact how they form relationships and react to stress well into adulthood.
Adverse childhood experiences include any form of abuse (physical, emotional, verbal), neglect, and even parental separation or divorce. These experiences result in prolonged stress responses in children that may have a negative impact on brain and emotional development. However, if these traumatic experiences are contrasted with protective factors such as other loving adults and role models in life, those children may be able to overcome past trauma. We have all heard that “children are resilient”, and that is essential to the discussion of adverse childhood experiences.
Even those who experience trauma in childhood may be capable of turning those experiences into an increased understanding of others, empathy, and lessons as to how to be a better parent. There is no formula to determine who will respond in healthy ways to childhood trauma or who may struggle. Maybe the most important lesson we can take away from this is to acknowledge how childhood experiences, both positive and negative, will inform adulthood. We all desire better for our children than we ourselves experienced, and that is especially true for those who experienced abuse, neglect, or separation from those who were supposed to protect them the most.
If you need help to process adverse childhood experiences or feel that your childhood has negatively impacted you as an adult, please call Main St. Psychiatry for support and assistance. Check out the links below for more information on how childhood informs life as an adult.
Original material found at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/ttb_aces_consequences.pdf