Many parents who adopt children with attachment challenges expect that showing consistent love to their child can undo the factors that lead to unhealthy attachments. Although parents work hard to communicate to their child that they are in a safe environment with loving caregivers, the neglect from early childhood has already been internalized.
According to the TBRI model, one can think of the brain as being separated into two parts: the Downstairs Brain and the Upstairs Brain. The Downstairs Brain is fully-formed when the child is born. It serves as the foundational, primal part of the brain. The Upstairs Brain is the part of the brain that allows children to think, regulate emotions, and make good choices.
When a child is exposed to repeated trauma throughout childhood, the Downstairs Brain is exercised. Like a muscle, it grows stronger. Repeated exposure to fearful experiences means that the Downstairs Brain is excessively active, so the child is in a constant state of fight or flight that overrides the messages from the Upstairs Brain. Because the child’s brain is hyper vigilant and in a constant state of survival, their brain chemistry is altered. Because the nervous system has not developed properly, behavior issues may stem from sensory processing difficulties