Toxic Stress: The Impact of Early Adversity on Brain Development and Child Behavior
Part 1 – Neurobiology of chronic (toxic) stress
The videos below provide parents with a framework to understand how a child's pre-adoptive experiences can create biological memories and impact their engagement within new families.
Some children enter adoptive homes following experiences of toxic stress, which can negatively impact their development and behavior. Though not necessarily describing the early experiences of every child who is adopted, toxic stress is more likely to be experienced by children who developed in the context of overcrowded group care or who lived within chaotic, neglectful, or abusive early environments. Understanding how these experiences impact early development and behavior can support new parents in their efforts to provide reparative relationships and ultimately reduce the long-term impacts of early adversity and toxic stress.
Following a description of toxic stress and its impact on brain development, these videos provide concrete ideas to support parent-child relationships and promote positive family functioning. .
We have chosen the sites listed below because we believe they provide accurate, reliable information that focus on education and support. Inclusion on this list does not necessarily imply endorsement, nor do we guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on these sites.
Information about toxic stress
- Harvard Center on the Developing Child, video series
- Interview with Bruce Perry, MD, PhD
- Trauma, Brain & Relationship: Helping Children Heal
- Parenting After Trauma: Understanding Your Child's Needs
- Pediatrician's Guide to Toxic Stress (from the American Academy of Pediatrics)
- Parental Self-Care Inventory
- Child Trauma Academy (Bruce Perry, MD, PhD)
- Institute of Child Development (Karyn Purvis, PhD)
- Empowered To Connect (Karyn Purvis, PhD)
- Beyond Consequences (Heather Forbes, LCSW)
- Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (Daniel Hughes, PhD)
- National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (search: What is child traumatic stress, Invisible suitcase, Caring for children who have experienced trauma)