Reports & Working Papers

Persistent Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Young Children’s Learning and Development

It is essential that children have safe, secure environments in which to grow, learn, and develop healthy brains and bodies. Science shows that early exposure to circumstances that produce persistent fear and chronic anxiety can have lifelong effects on brain architecture.

This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explores why traumatic experiences may affect how children learn, solve problems, and relate to others. It also puts forward suggestions for policies that could help address the effects of traumatic experiences in children. Some of these recommendations include making sure that programs and policies that are designed to address domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health problems in adults who have (or are expecting) children also focus on the children’s developmental needs, beginning in the prenatal period; and ensuring that early identification and treatment for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders in young children are routinely available through existing services for families.

Suggested citation: National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2010). Persistent Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Young Children’s Learning and Development: Working Paper No. 9. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.

Working Paper 9 cover

Persistent Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Young Children's Learning and Development: Working Paper No. 9

  Download PDF
  Subscribe to our mailing list

Explore Related Resources