Healing Attachment Wounds After Childhood Trauma

The February 2024 Childhood Trauma Newsletter

As many of us in child psychology have known for decades, attachment to safe and loving caregivers in babyhood and childhood is paramount for long-term emotional and physical well-being.

However, as awareness of secure attachment grows in the general population, more and more of you are scared that you are missing the mark and failing to provide your children/students/clients with the attachment they need to live a successful life. But I’m here to tell you the real deal with attachment and settle some of your fears.

As a refresher, “attachment” is the emotional connection that forms between infants/children and at least one caregiver. I want to emphasize that it only takes ONE loving, responsive, consistent adult to create a secure attachment, but it includes multiple people in many cultures.

When a child feels safe and cared for by the adults around them, they develop trust in themselves and the world. This trust between the child, the caregivers, and the world is the foundation for secure attachment and long-term emotional well-being.

I’m going to be very direct – as long as you are responding to and meeting the needs of the child, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, secure attachment will develop between you and the children. Even when circumstances damage the attachment forming between a child and caregiver, there are skills adults can learn to repair that attachment relationship over time, even if it’s been a few years.

We are going to mess up, miss a need, and even scare children at times, and yet as long as we are loving, attuned, and responsive MOST OF THE TIME, the attachment relationship should be ok.

I let out a sigh of relief writing this, and I hope you can breathe easier now too!

Don’t get me wrong, a significant lack of attachment to primary caregivers is the root cause of many of the bio/psycho/social challenges we witness in children. We must do our best to respond to children’s emotional and physical needs, no matter what time of the day or night, to build this attachment.

When children are emotionally/physically neglected, ignored while in distress, and separated from primary caregivers for extended periods in early childhood, we commonly see trauma responses emerge.

The bad news: Children who experience emotional neglect by their primary caregivers develop a belief system that they are unsafe, and so is the world around them. This belief primes their nervous system to exist on high alert, making it difficult to trust new attachment figures, cope with stress, and learn. The child’s fear of what might happen if they trust adults again interrupts their progress along their natural developmental trajectory and makes it significantly challenging to love, learn, and grow.

The good news: Research supports that it is possible to build attachment with children, once they are in a safe, loving relationship and environment.

Here are a few easy suggestions to increase attachment and help children heal from trauma:

One of my suggestions in the above graphic is to increase activities that build trust, and I have a special event in March that will help reduce your child’s anxiety AND build attachment with caregivers! More details below.

NEW EVENT: Taming Childhood Anxiety with the Worry Ball Game

When: Thursday, March 14th

Time: 12-1:30 PM EST

Where: Online

REGISTER HERE

In this webinar, Beth Tyson, childhood trauma specialist, will guide families through the art of using logic and sassiness to tackle those pesky, irrational thoughts that often plague our little ones. The Worry Ball game is not just a game; it’s a powerful cognitive behavioral therapy tool that empowers parents and children alike to confront fears head-on in a lighthearted and entertaining manner. Worry Ball was created by Dr. Inna Leiter, Founder of the Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Join us for this interactive workshop filled with insights, anecdotes, and practical tips from a childhood trauma specialist who’s not afraid to get real with you. Let’s embark on this journey together and equip your family with the tools to stop irrational thoughts in their tracks. Say goodbye to fear and hello to a future filled with courage and laughter!

Money-back guarantee: If you are unsatisfied with the event, the cost will be fully refunded to you at your request.

Secure your spot today and let the Worry Ball game be your family’s secret power against anxious thoughts.

Improve Your Organization’s Outcomes for Children

Trauma Champion of the Month
Neuroscientist and author of the new book Being Seen, Dr. Selena Bartlett

Professor Selena Bartlett. PhD is a world-renowned neuroscientist and Group Leader of Neuroscience and Neuroplasticity at the Translational Research Institute, School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health at the Queensland University of Technology.

Below is an exclusive Q&A with Dr. Bartlett on her groundbreaking book, Being Seen: Mastering Parenting in the Digital Age

1. Can you share what inspired you to write Being Seen from a personal and professional perspective?

Dr. Bartlett: “We are in an urgent situation where younger and younger children are on smart devices and are being exploited online. Social media is a modern traumatic experience for children because their brains are not able to handle the information, and it is impacting their mental health. We, parents, carers, and educators, are the ONLY way to keep kids safe online. The explosion is beyond the ability of policing or schools, and this is why kids are being targeted in wealthy countries. THE PROBLEM- only 3% of parents think it is happening to their children, and no one wants to talk about it.”

2. What is your favorite quote from the book?

Dr. Bartlett: “As the chapters in this book unfolded, you weren’t just reading; you were evolving. Whether it was understanding your own behavior patterns or learning how to safeguard your child online, with each chapter, you have found a stepping stone to becoming the parent you’ve always aspired to be. You’ve solved the problem of feeling lost in the digital age by equipping yourself with the skills and knowledge to not just survive but thrive in it. So, here we are, at the end of this book but at the beginning of a new chapter in your parenting journey. It’s time to start co-authoring the next chapter, both in your life and in your child’s.”

Excerpt From: Being Seen, Master Parenting in the Digital Age by Selena Bartlett. This material may be protected by copyright.

3. What is the most important thing caregivers can do to protect their children online?

Dr. Bartlett: “Understanding the vital importance of “Being Seen”—of building strong, meaningful serve and return relationships with our children—can serve as a robust defense against the dangers lurking in the digital shadows. Such relationships not only forge stronger emotional bonds but also contribute to healthy brain development. Thus, while parenting in the digital age may be the hardest job we’ll ever have, it also offers an unparalleled opportunity.”


New Podcast Interview: Healing & Growing Hand in Hand:
Listen in as Lisa, a trauma survivor, and I discuss how caregiving/parenting can trigger our emotional childhood wounds, and what we can do to heal ourselves and our children.

Exciting Update on My Next Book
I am completing the storyboard phase of my upcoming children’s book, Sullivan Goes to See Mama: A Story to Help Children Cope with Supervised Visitation. The storyboard is a draft version of black and white illustrations that will make up the book’s contents. Below is one of my favorite illustrations from the storyboard of Sullivan arriving at the visitation center. Reply to this email to join my book launch team and be a part of the inside scoop!

Positive News from the Field

  1. Stellate Ganglion Block Reduces Anxiety Symptoms by Half: A Case Series of 285 Patients
  2. A major clinical trial, BRIGhTMIND, reveals that MRI-guided Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) significantly eases symptoms of severe depression for at least six months.
  3. A Surprising Way to Stop Bullying
  4. Throughout 2023, police forces kept shrinking, yet overall violent crime rates plummeted to their lowest levels since the 1960s, according to preliminary FBI data.

Additional Resources from Beth Tyson Trauma Consulting

  1. My children’s book, A Grandfamily for Sullivan is a heartwarming, therapeutic story about a grandchild raised by his grandmother due to unfortunate circumstances with his biological parents. The sequel, Sullivan Goes to See Mama will be released in the next few months.
  2. My private Facebook group, Emotiminds is an educational space for people who want to learn about trauma-informed care and improving the emotional well-being of families.

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