What Exactly is Blocked Trust

Blocked trust happens when a child experiences early complex trauma, neglect and/or abuse, and in turn develops a brain that is wired for survival and mistrust of others. Typically those with blocked trust have a difficult time connecting with all caregivers. The concepts of both blocked trust and blocked care were developed by Daniel Hughes and Jonathon Baylin in their book Brain Based Parenting. 

Characteristics of Blocked Trust

Children with blocked trust are difficult to like. They often get labeled as prickly, controlling, spiteful, and emotionally flat. Based on their early trauma, these children learned to survive by literally blocking the physical and emotional pain brought on by their caregivers and their living situation. In turn, their ability to feel joy, love, and connection, was also compromised. The following characteristic are often found in children who are experiencing blocked trust:


  • Difficulty seeking comfort from others
  • Unable to relax
  • Hard time playing
  • Incapable of identifying and sharing emotions
  • Do not accept boundaries
  • Cannot accept love from parents
  • Distrusting of others
  • Hypervigilant
In the foster-care and adoption world, this dynamic is often called “blocked care/blocked trust.”
The neglect, trauma, or abandonment suffered in a child’s earliest years can trigger a lingering 
fear response—an involuntary, anxiety-based apprehension around the concept of accepting and 
receiving care and affection. Reflexively, adoptive or foster parents grow weary of trying to 
love a child, who struggles to receive or give it themselves.
*Excerpt from Blocked Care and Blocked Trust in Adoptive and Foster Families

A Spectrum of Symptoms

Before you go ahead and hand IN your parenting towel, please know that not all children from hard places go on to develop blocked trust. Some only have 1 or 2 symptoms. Certain times of the year or other triggers can bring out the blocked trust traits in your child. This is not an all or nothing situation. There is a ton of variety.  A spectrum of symptoms. Please do not despair if your child fits the description. There is plenty of hope, as always.

Parenting a Child With Blocked Trust

And herein lies the problem. How to parent a child with blocked trust and not go on to develop blocked care yourself? These terms are super connected as you have figured out by now. Please read the next piece in this Newsletter to learn all about blocked care. But do not skip the section after that which outlines the solutions, as there are always strategies for mending and healing.



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