How We Cause Emotional Trauma to Children
One of my most vivid memories as a child was watching my two younger brothers cry hysterically as my mom cut their hair against their wishes. We were about 11 or 12 years old. It was the early 1970’s and long hair was a sign that you were cool. We’d reached a place in our lives where we no longer wanted the childish haircuts my mom gave us. Our older brothers had gone through the adult rites of passage and wore their hair as long as they wanted. We had not yet arrived. I was next for a haircut, and like my brothers, this particular one was emotionally traumatic for me. To this day, the memory of the haircut still surfaces from time to time. The memory, and the emotions of anger I felt toward my mom.
Children (even teenagers) don’t have the capacity to reason that adults have. Things that seem harmless to an adult can be terrifying to a child. As adults, we’re able to view things through the lens of maturity and life experience. We know there isn’t any real harm in what we’re doing, so we rationalize away the terrors our child expresses. To us, their fears are foolish.
But to the child gripped with fear, anger, or some other emotion, the horror they feel is real and it has an enduring effect. Emotionally traumatic events cause damage to the soul, forming alters and fragments. (For information on alters and fragments see this article.) Events that seem harmless to an adult, can cause trauma to a child that will plague them for the rest of their life. Such events will become the stuff of future nightmares and phobias and they create an environment for demons to torment us.
I have a relative who is 60 years old. Recently, a number of traumatic events from her past have surfaced. She spends her days exploding in angry outbursts toward her relatives over wrongs that were done to her as a child. She continually relives the tragedies of her youth. Her life is a mess because she’s never been healed of the emotional trauma that occurred during her childhood.
If you’re a parent, it’s imperative that you take the fears your children express seriously. I’m not suggesting you let a child run the home. I’m only suggesting that you refrain from minimizing the seriousness of their emotional reactions. If a child displays strong negative emotions toward a certain situation, it should be a red flag, warning you something is wrong. You might set time aside and ask what they’re feeling and do your best to honor their wishes if they are reasonable.
If you’re plagued by regret, anger, fear, and other negative emotions tied to your past, you might consider whether you need emotional healing. I’ve seen many people healed of these emotions and in some cases, I’ve seen symptoms of physical pain disappear after emotional healing.
The approach I use for healing trauma is so simple anyone can do it themselves. The prayer process can be found in my book Emotional Healing in Three Easy Steps.
Great wisdom, PM.
You are absolutely right. I have been getting healing AGAIN the past few weeks from emotional things from when I was a child and I am over 50 years old. We have to forgive tho. A must.
Amazing. And you’re just talking about hair cutting, but it could be anything, even a shot from the doctor. It is amazing the pain I feel when children start to cry in pain and fear. I’m not talking about tantrums, but actually pain and fear. And yet we want them to trust our Father. We should be listening ourselves to the Father first before even taking action towards our children.
Sometimes we don’t see the harm we do, but we could be doing a lot of harm just by little thing.
Alex Loyd author of the healing code calls these “popsicle” memories after a client he had who sabotaged her whole professional career because her mother didn’t give her a popsicle
The note is so poignant. I asked my children to read it. Then read the explanation. They were quick to tell me all their trauma with smiles along with an undercurrent of protest of all I have asked of them to do that scared them. Driving, haircuts, tornados,…less computer time was named as a trauma.
We joked, and I sat after wondering who avoids trauma. No one.
Thank God there is something we can do about it.
I always remember if the reaction is like a giant to something small as a thimble….look for a history of trauma.
Great teaching and reminder!
One of the ways we honour people and communicate that we value them is to truly listen to them — and that includes children. Thank you for this.
Thank you so much for this post, PM. Such wisdom! Forgiveness is a very important part of the healing process. Sometimes the pain from the past is so bad the person can’t bring themselves to that place. However, with the grace of God, it is possible for that to be done. I have this going on in my family right now. Lots of pain and lots of walls built up over a long period of time.