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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

Learn More

Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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What is Emotional Flooding?

A stress response that doesn’t return a state of balance tends to become an unresolved emotional trauma. This is the extreme side of the stress disorder spectrum. At its core, it is stress gone awry. Emotional trauma can be the result of common occurrences or even a disabling condition, like a birth brain injury.

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Birth Brain Injury and Neurocognitive Issues

Neurocognitive issues that arise after a birth brain injury can affect the child’s cognitive function, behavior, and emotions. In fact, post-traumatic reactions may occur independent of the brain injury and can affect the child’s behavior and mood. But, they are not mutually exclusive.

After a brain trauma, children may experience both psychological and neurocognitive symptoms as they grow up. When the brain is healing, it requires rest. Being stimulated past the point of fatigue can lead to emotional flooding. For some babies, this can present as crying spells. Ensuring the child rests and takes time out will help to either prevent or at least lessen the intensity of these episodes. As they grow up, a neuropsychologist can help your little one develop coping mechanisms.

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Helping Your Child Deal with Emotional Flooding

1. Teachable Moments

It’s important to remember that no matter how frustrating or nonsensical your child’s feelings may seem to you, they are important to your little one. When he or she gets distressed, they’re often unable to tap into their logical left brain and therefore display their emotions through non-verbal ways and gestures. They cry, throw things, and they yell. When they are upset, logic may not work until you have responded to his or her emotional needs.

The trick is to avoid reacting to unspoken communication by connecting to the child where he or she is. This means validating those floods of emotions and re-directing their attention. Teach them to tap into their left brain and make sense of their emotions and experience.

2. Pinpoint Things

When they experience disappointing or painful moments, this can be incredibly overwhelming. As a parent, you can help your child understand what is happening in that moment by helping him or her retell the story of that experience. This allows your child to explore his or her feelings as they process their story via their own words. You can help explain the bits they struggle to put into words.

This approach allows you to take time when things calm down to help them explore irrational emotions and bodily sensations and help them learn to overcome tough situations and moments. By helping your child explore a story often, and repeatedly, you will allow them to make sense of the experience and therefore learn how to stop that overwhelming flood of emotions.


Be sure to really listen when he or she is experiencing emotional flooding. Encourage them to speak without interrupting, and bring loving feelings and communication to create a connection and help your child with brain trauma deal with an often over-stimulating and emotional world.