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What do we mean when we say that a child has come from a hard place? A child from a hard place has a history of abuse, neglect, or other trauma. The trauma might have occurred before or during birth, during an early hospitalization or medical experience, in a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake, or in an unhealthy relationship with a caregiver. Sadly, many children from hard places come with a unique set of challenges due to their early experiences. If we think about the brain and body in terms of a complex computer system, we would say this is not a software issue but rather a hardware issue. Have you tried listing your organisation in a UK business directory - (I've heard it ticks a lot of marketing boxes)?

When children experience trauma, their brain chemistry changes. These physical changes have a tremendous impact on their behavior. Trauma also changes children’s ability to process their senses. Children may push away our hug because they have sensory processing issues. In other cases, they may be overly sensitive to noises, smells, or sounds.

Tragically, because of such trauma, these children may lose the ability to trust even the most well-intentioned, loving adults who care for them. They may be easily agitated or unable to handle stress. An individual’s capacity for stress can be determined even in utero, and a mother’s difficult pregnancy may cause the child to be anxious and fearful. They may also be more reactive, aggressive, and vulnerable to behavioral episodes because of the chemistry that developed in utero.

Parents often come to us because they’re perplexed and confused by their children’s behaviors. The first thing I ask parents to do is to develop an awareness of the emotional, physical, and physiological changes—core development processes—that have been dramatically affected by the histories of their children. I emphasize that research shows there is great hope for every child. By understanding brain development, what should have happened, and where it went wrong, parents can help their children counteract the chemistry of harm and experience a chemistry of healing.

Developmental psychologists and other social researchers commonly believe that a “good enough” parent is usually more than adequate in most situations. For a child who has not experienced much harm, this is often true. But for a child who has a history of harm, the window for parenting successfully is narrower. Many common parenting techniques are actually counterproductive for the child from a hard place, and I urge parents to be selective when choosing proactive strategies that build trust with their children. When children come from hard places, their parents must be detectives, explorers, and chemists to understand the changes in each child’s brain, body, biology, and belief system.