Arrested Psychological Development
Traumatic life events can cause the child to become ‘stuck’ at a particular level of psychological development for an extended period of time – s/he may, therefore, often seem immature as development was frozen at an earlier stage.
For example, an eleven year old child who was abandoned by his/her primary carer at age four may throw tantrums similar to those one might expect of a four year old when left with an unfamiliar baby-sitter. In other words, s/he may regress behaviorally to the developmental stage at which s/he became frozen. Such regressive behavior is a temporary reaction to real or perceived trauma.
Severe trauma can result in commensurately severe developmental delays. For example, a ten year old child who has experienced severe trauma may not yet have developed a conscience (even though a conscience usually develops around the of ages six to eight). This does NOT mean that the child is ‘bad’, it is just that s/he has not yet reached the relevant developmental stage. This can be rectified by the child identifying with a parent or carer and internalizing that identification.
It is vital to point out that if a child has never had the opportunity to identify with a safe and rational adult and has not, therefore, been able to internalize adult values, we cannot expect that child to have developed a conscience.
Indeed, if there has been little or no justice or predictability in the child’s life, and s/he is ill-treated for no discernible reason by adults in a position of trust, developing a conscience may not even have been in the child’s best interests. In extreme circumstances, for example, it may have been necessary for the child to lie, steal and cheat purely in order to survive; once s/he has learned such behaviors are necessary to his/her very survival, these same behaviors become extremely difficult to unlearn.
Below I list some of the main factors that may lead to arrested development.
EXAMPLES OF TRAUMAS WHICH CAN INTERRUPT
PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT :
– separation from the primary care-giver
– all forms of abuse
– foster care
– parental alcohol/drug misuse
ATTACHMENT DISORDER :
One of the main traumas a child can suffer is a problematic early relationship with the primary care- giver; these problems can include the primary care-giver having a mental illness, abusing alcohol/drugs, or otherwise abusing or abandoning the child. In such cases, attachment disorder is likely to occur in the child – this disorder can impair or even cripple a child’s ability to trust and bond with others. In such cases, it is the child’s ability to attach to other human beings which is impaired by developmental delays.
Since such a child’s development has essentially become frozen in relation to his/her ability to bond with others, s/he will not ‘grow out’ of the problem behaviors associated with attachment disorder without a great deal of emotional ‘repair work.’
WHAT KIND OF BEHAVIORS MIGHT A CHILD WITH AN
ATTACHMENT DISORDER DISPLAY?
the main examples of these are listed below :
– little eye contact with parents
– lack of affection with parents
– telling extremely obvious lies
– delays in learning
– poor relationships with peers
– cruelty to animals
– lack of conscience
– preoccupation with fire
– very little impulse control/hyperactivity
– abnormal speech patterns
– abnormal eating patterns
– inappropriate demanding behavior
– inappropriate clingy behavior
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2018 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery
Posted in:All Articles , Tagged:age regression, arrested development, arrested psychological development, attachment disorder, delayed development, developmental delay, fear of growing up, fear of growing up cause and effect essay, fear of growing up childhood, fear of growing up disorder, fear of growing up peter pan complex, fear of growing up phobia, fear of growing up phobia name, fear of growing up psychology
Just as your children grow and change, so do their fears. Monsters under the bed, thunderstorms or loud noises probably no longer cause your child to need your reassuring words and hugs. Fourth and fifth graders' most common anxieties are being kidnapped, parents divorcing, someone dying, fires, burglars, school failure and being a social outcast.
Psychologists have discovered that distinguishing between fear and anxiety is often difficult in children. Fear is a response to a situation (a neighbor's dog), while anxiety is being worried about something that hasn't happened yet (a shot at the doctor's office). Once parents realize this difference, they can better help their child cope.
- The first and most important thing is to believe your child's fear. Talking about and affirming the existence of her fear will help your child. But be careful not to overtalk the fear or express your own fears. If your child doesn't want to discuss it, encourage her to write a fictional story about another person with the same fears or draw a picture of what could happen.
- Fears can often be removed or reasoned through to a logical conclusion after evaluating reality. Make a plan of action if a mean dog comes too close. Practice on dolls the day before a visit to the dentist. Memorize certain Bible verses that fit your child's fear (check out Psalm 27:1, Psalm 31:24 and John 14:27). The more independent your child feels, the smaller the fear can become.
- Try to recognize your child's signs of anxiety in order to quickly help. Some children may become introverted. Others will misbehave, and still others will have sleeping problems, headaches or stomachaches.
- Know the fine line between being a protective parent and being overprotective. Your child should feel safe but shouldn't be so insecure as to never want to be alone. Shielding unpleasant situations is part of a parent's responsibility, but children also must have the freedom to learn from their experiences and their mistakes.
If your child's anxiety repeatedly interrupts her daily life, consider consulting a counselor, pediatrician or pastor for advice on minimizing these heart-pounding fears.
Next in this Series: Taming the Backyard Shark