The transition from childhood to adulthood allows for the formation of identity. During this period young people’s ideas and feelings often waver as they consolidate a sense-of-self. The confusion brought on by trauma interferes with this process, leaving adolescents and young adults unsure about where and how they will fit into the world.
Babies come into the world in a disorganized state. They learn to calm themselves and to send increasingly clear signals in reaction to the responsive attention of attuned caregivers. Infants who have been traumatized will have much more difficulty attaining the organization necessary for healthy development.
This is an industrious period for children, as they work to learn and learn to work. Mastery of increasingly complex skills builds their confidence and their self-esteem. Traumatized children usually find little pleasure in school because both learning and navigating relationships with peers and adults too often leave them feeling defeated, rather than proud.