Trauma-informed practices in early childhood education: Contributions, limitations, and ethical considerations

Date: May, 2019

While it should be obvious on moral grounds that abusing children in any shape or form is wrong, biological, medical, and economic arguments have been necessary to bring attention to the longstanding impact of early childhood trauma. In particular, stemming from the mental health field, a trauma-informed approach seems to have become a privileged way to understand and attend to children exposed to an array of traumatic experiences. However, the introduction of such approach is relatively recent and its implementation still needs to be explored. In this article we describe some of the possible contributions and limitations of a trauma-informed approach to early childhood educators’ practice. We highlight the risks involved in privileging children’s socialization in detriment of their subjectification and underscore the need to broaden dominant approaches to early childhood trauma by assuming an ethical responsibility towards children. To guide educators in the necessary endeavour of encountering each child as an infinite Other, we found inspiration in the work of Lithuanian-French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.