Children Learn What They Live

A Soundbite by Allison Davis Maxon, LMFT, Kinship Center Regional Executive Director, Adoptions and Education

 

The primary method of early learning is imitation (Gruber and Voneche, l977).  Children imitate what they see, what they hear, and what they experience.  They typically do what they are shown to do rather than what they’re told to do.

What happens to a child who is repeatedly exposed to violence and aggression?  How is that child’s body, heart and mind impacted?  The long term results of chronic violence on a child can be devastating.  Children who experience overwhelming fear and terror develop defensive strategies to help them survive…strategies such as becoming impulsive, reactive and easily moved to aggression.

Unfortunately these survival strategies make it difficult for such children to develop healthy relationships. And since our primary need as human beings is our need to connect, the lack of healthy relationships becomes a critical issue.

So where is the good news?  The good news is that because children primarily learn through imitation, they can also learn to develop healthy coping strategies when they gain access to adults who can model those effective strategies and relationship skills.  In fact the wonderful news is that children actually heal, grow and learn in the context of healing relationships!

 

Click here for a powerful 21-minute video by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network about the effects of abuse and violence on the developing child.

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