What Happened to You?

What Happened to You?

Brain Science, In the News, Point of View, Trauma

When I was a kid in the late 1960s and early 70s, I attended St. Rita’s school in a little town called Sierra Madre. The culture was corporal punishment and shame. It wasn’t until 5th grade that I had a teacher who did not use physical violence or terror. None of this seemed unusual. My experience was common. We found ways to navigate and survive. Kids’ stories of themselves and one another were shaped by shame and fear – those stories shaped the course of our lives. My story was that adults could not be trusted. I did not respect …

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How Teachers can move from “What is Wrong with You?!” to “What Happened to You?”

We now know that childhood trauma, including ongoing toxic stress, has a profound impact on brain development and behavior. In fact, behaviors teachers see in the classroom that seem to make no sense may actually be a student’s adaptive responses that show a brain’s capacity for prioritizing survival.

When we blame the student or take behavior personally, our responses may be hurtful rather than helpful. Over the past 18 months, as the effects of the pandemic have further increased stress and struggle for all families, especially those from marginalized and Brown and Black populations, teachers may see a good deal …

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How Parents & Caregivers can move on from “What’s Wrong with Me?”

Our early experiences shape us in profound ways. If those experiences were persistently stressful or traumatic in your early life, you may suffer from the results of adversity, just like millions of other parents and caregivers.

Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey teamed up on a new book titled What Happened To You? that illuminates how early adversity affects human beings. Many of us are caught up in blame and shame, and the authors point out that rather than asking, “What is wrong with me?” or “What is wrong with you?” we should shift the question to ask instead, “What …

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