While exposure to complex trauma can adversely affect child development across multiple domains of functioning, the degree of the trauma's impact can change as the child is exposed to different stressors and developmental challenges. Various protective and coping factors, including the child’s supportive relationships, self-esteem, and social competency, will affect how each child fares when exposed to trauma. These factors, whether they are individual factors or family and environmental factors, can help buffer the effects of trauma, strengthening the child’s resilience and competence across various domains of functioning.
Understanding these protective and coping factors is critical to the child welfare practitioner’s ability to respond appropriately to children exposed to trauma, and is key to implementation of trauma-informed practice. It is the responsibility of caregivers, child welfare practitioners, and other professionals to instill and/or enhance these factors in trauma-affected children to the greatest degree possible and set them on a pathway to healing.