We often say: ‘Our children are our future’, Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson writes.
However, children learn from us as parents and as teachers. If children are surrounded by love and care, with opportunities for optional development, they grow up to be people with creativity, empathy, social skills and resiliency which enables them to contribute to the society in which they live.
Unfortunately many children grow up in situations where there is violence.
Adults who should be relied upon for nurturance, may actually be a source of terror. The use of the term ‘family violence’ refers to three forms of harm to children: witnessing domestic violence, being the direct victim of abuse, and being exposed to neglectful caretaking.
Children who witness or hear violence, experience violence. Their world is unsafe. A child’s early life can cause negative effects on cognitive, neurological, psychological development as well as attachment development, resulting in children experiencing developmental trauma.
By the age of three a child’s brain is 90% developed. They have already progressed through the developmental task of thinking for themselves, are capable of being assertive, and are beginning to separate from their carers. Teachers play an essential, in fact critical role in connecting children to programs which enable them to become competent learners advancing in the worlds in which they live.
In fact naming and responding to developmental trauma through an ‘educaring’ approach in early childhood settings, in partnership with carers, can help children heal from trauma.