Spiritual development and the counter effects it as on trauma will also be discussed. To conclude, this paper will provide suggestions for future research relating to physical health and nutrition and the positive effects they have on a child’s mental health and overall well- being. Trauma and the Effects on Neural Development Children exposed to trauma may experience attachment issues or “unpredictable emotions, which include flashbacks, strained relationships, physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, depression or anxiety’ (American Psychological Association, 2015).
When children are exposed to constant conflict or stress it can affect their growth and development significantly. High conflict marriages, families living in poverty or children dealing with the divorce of their parents can create very stressful environments. According to Amatol et al. (2000), “empirical research confirms that children of divorce are at an increased risk for the development of psychological, behavioral and academic problems” (as cited in Connelly & Green, 2009). Children from high conflict divorce often fare worse compared to children whose parents have a more amicable divorce (Brooks, 2014).
Constant conflict and high levels of stress increase stress hormones which reverts the child from having the capability of calming themselves down. Parents who are incapable and unwilling to get along are engaged in a relationship that can be very alluring and seductive. While this type Of relationship remains dysfunctional it still keeps the couple connected. Because of the alluring nature many parents continue to engage in high conflict relationships and as a result children face devastating developmental consequences that affect their overall well-being.
Developmental Delays Following Trauma Many children in the United States grow up in households where psychological maltreatment is ever present. Feldman (2014) states that psychological maltreatment occurs when parents or other caregivers harm children’s behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or physical functioning (p. 257). For many children this form of maltreatment has “been associated with low self-esteem, lying, misbehaver and underachievement in school” (Feldman, 2014).
Additionally, the brain of the child endures permanent changes due to abuse and neglect. Feldman (2014) provides the following information on childhood maltreatment and abuse: Childhood maltreatment can lead to reductions in the size of the magical and hippopotamus in adulthood. The stress, fear, and terror produced by abuse may also produce permanent changes in the brain due to overpopulation of the limbic system. The limbic system is involved in regulating memory and emotion.
When the limbic system is overestimated it can cause the child to experience antisocial behavior in adulthood (p. 257). The developmental delays that may occur due to trauma prove detrimental to a child’s development. Resilience training is very beneficial when caring for a child who has suffered a traumatic event. Resilience is the ability to overcome circumstances that place a child at high sis for psychological or physical damage (Feldman, 2014, p. 258). Traumatic events are unavoidable and everyone will experience at least some form of trauma in their lifetime.
The importance of resilience cannot be overlooked, it is a powerful tool that can be used to reverse the negative effects of trauma. Trauma and the Variation between Cultures Trauma varies among cultures. Children who are born and raised in war torn countries experience very different levels of trauma compared to children who are not exposed to war. Coleridge (2001 ) provides the following: Afghanistan refugee children experience war, murder of parents, arid labor and marriages at an early age (as cited in Streetwalker & Hoot, 2008). The consequences of war are real and for many young people these legacies remain just below the surface and find expression in depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder” (Burry & Hayward, 2013). Burry & Hayward (2013) also state that, “resilience of the Afghanistan people is remarkable, with their ability to rebound in the face of tragedies, to move forward in life and to make the best of their situations” (p. 3). Children who are raised in countries that are devastated by war are exposed to many horrifying crimes against humanity.
The resilient nature of these children set them apart from other children. The desire to survive is so powerful that they continue to live even in the face of war and terror. Spiritual Development and the Counter Effects on Trauma Relationship, Absent;King, Wagoner, & Benson (2006) state the following: Spirituality and religion may serve a particular protective function when the family faces significant adversity, such as poverty, chronic health problems in a family member, the death of a family member, or other traumatic experiences.
In times of difficulty, turmoil, or crisis, religious practices and levels can provide intrinsic benefits as well as enhance the support available to the family (p. 359). Dry. Brooks explains in her video that faith and spirituality can be used to calm the nervous system during times of stress. She refers to this part of the brain as the “God part of the brain” (Brooks, 2014). God created us to worship and to seek Him. Therefore, the brain releases a calming sense when one becomes connected with Him through worship and prayer.
Relationship et al. (2006) states, “the sense that a divine power can work through one’s own and others’ prayers adds a unique element of comfort not mound in nonstructural sources of social support” (p. 359). Spiritual development is a crucial component that can be used to help children overcome traumatic events. “Spirituality benefits our life emotionally, physically and gives a person sense Of purpose” (Dangle & Sings, 2012). Conclusion The devastating effects of childhood trauma often leads to psychological disorders. The use of antidepressant drugs has become a popular treatment for a variety of childhood psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety’ (Feldman, 2014, p. 281). These types of medications are being prescribed for young people at an alarming rate. More than 10 million prescriptions are written annually for children under the age of eighteen (p. 281 Advocates for the use of these drugs stand behind them because they are found to treat psychological disorders quite well. However, the long term side effects need to be researched further. There is some evidence linking the use Of antidepressant medication with an increased risk of suicides?’ (Feldman, 2014, p. 281). While the drugs are effective at masking the symptoms of depression and anxiety, one easily becomes dependent on them. Research could benefit by switching focus from pharmaceutical options and move to a more organic approach to healing. “Longitudinal studies over many years in Guatemalan villages show that children’s nutritional backgrounds are related to several dimensions of social and emotional functioning (Feldman, 2014, p. 276).
Children who received more nutrients were more involved with their peers, showed more positive emotion, and had less anxiety than their peers who had received less adequate nutrients (p. 276). Children growing up in the United States are exposed to many toxins in their environments. The meals consumed by many American families consist of processed nutrient deprived foods. School lunch programs have also failed to meet the nutritional needs Of students. Physical education and time for play during recess has decreased allowing additional concentration on academic achievement.
All these factors play into the healthy development in children. Our bodies are being deprived the nutrients God intended for all of us to have in order to live healthy lives. “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and filled with love” (Ephesians 4:16). Further research is needed on the importance of nutrition and physical health during childhood especially relating to children who are suffering from psychological disorders.