Nearly half of all US children have at least one of nine Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and more than 20 percent have experienced two or more. ACEs affects 34 million children in the US each year, often causing childhood trauma. The nine areas assessed are as follows:
• Somewhat often/very often hard to get by on income
• Parent/guardian divorced or separated
• Parent/guardian died
• Parent/guardian served time in jail
• Saw or heard violence in the home
• Victim/witness of neighborhood violence
• Lived with anyone mentally ill, suicidal, or depressed
• Lived with anyone with alcohol or drug problem
• Often treated or judged unfairly due to race/ethnicity
This is not an exhaustive list of what constitutes childhood trauma or the need for emotional regulation. Many circumstances cause children to feel unsafe or disconnected from their world, all of which can cause trauma to that child. Learning to process those feelings, express themselves, and to thrive is unique to each child. There’s not one single approach that heals trauma and helps them self-regulate their emotions. However, there are numerous ways to reach the parts of them that are suffering and to nurture a healing environment.
This can seem like a daunting task but connecting with children and helping them feel safe can also be a lot of fun! You may even find yourself healing along the way. Here’s a great article that promotes dance and movement as one tool to help a wounded child release some of what they are holding inside. The pediatric occupational therapists at Zier Institute enjoy using physical movement and play to help children feel safe, empowered and strong. Whatta say? Let’s dance!