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Breaking the Cycle of Childhood Stress

back-to-schoolEach one of us can make a difference, especially in the eyes of a child. Children today, like many generations before, are full of stress which follows them through their development. It’s up to us to change this cycle for our children. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, author of THE DEEPEST WELL, shares how we can improve the health and lives of kids who have experienced adversity.

THE DEEPEST WELL is about the science of childhood adversity, and how it gets under our skin and changes our biology. It really builds off the TED Talk that I did in 2014, which sounded the alarm. It raised the issue and got an overwhelming response from folks who are saying, “This is my experience” and, “What can I do? What does the science mean for me and what can I do to heal?” THE DEEPEST WELL is really my response to all of those people. The science of how early adversity changes our biology and what that means in terms of our lifelong health was a public health crisis hidden in plain sight. It’s something that affects every race, ethnicity, geography, demographic that we can think of. And yet, for so many people, the effects were hidden. Children have experienced adversity since the dawn of time, but what the science does is that it gives us tools that we’ve never had before to interrupt that intergenerational cycle and that’s what feels so powerful and so hopeful for me.

I think the story that has really most affected me is the story of Lila. Lila was the same age as my own son, and so there was an intimacy in that experience that it was just impossible for me to shake. But another reason why the story of Lila was so important was because I was seeing in real time that these interventions work. That when we do early detection and multidisciplinary treatment, kids get better. And I will tell you that in my follow up appointments with Laila, seeing how well she’s done with these interventions, it literally has me dancing out of the clinic at the end of the day because I feel like we are doing it. We are improving the health and improving the lives of kids who have experienced adversity.

This is treatable and the thing that I most hope that readers will take away from this audiobook is the power of each one of us to make a difference. Whether it’s just in our own household, in our own day to day with our loved ones, with our kids, with our friends and family; or whether it’s on a larger level like I have tried to do with changing a system that we’re intimately involved in, whether it’s the healthcare system or the justice system or the educational system or early childhood or child welfare—whatever it is, there are so many opportunities to make people’s lives better on a day to day basis.

Here’s how to phrase kids more effectively.


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