Photo: Sean Goldman with his biological father David Goldman.
That's what psychologist Dr. Jenn Berman told CBS News' "The Early Show" Thursday.
Berman says that while most 3- to 5-year-olds don't retain the memories from those early years, Sean Goldman has experienced some of the biggest traumas a person can experience: "a divorce, the betrayal of the trust that his mother had with him, the death of his mother, [and] the abandonment of his father."
Photo: Sean Goldman 9, arrives at the U.S. Consulate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, hugging his Brazilian stepfather, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, Dec. 24, 2009.
Sean Goldman has been separated from his biological father, David Goldman, since 2004 when his mother took him from New Jersey to her native Brazil and never returned. She remarried a powerful Brazilian lawyer and later died giving birth to his child. Now, it appears David Goldman has won his complicated legal fight for his son, as Sean Goldman's Brazilian family complied Thursday with a court order to return the boy.
Berman, author of "The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids," says Sean Goldman likely doesn't know how hard his father has fought for his return and could easily interpret his father's absence as abandonment.
The media circus that now surrounds his reunion with his father likely isn't helping things either, says Berman.
That, added to the stress of learning and adjusting to a new culture where he doesn't speak the language well, will make things "incredibly difficult" says Berman. "Kids are very resilient, but this child has many challenges ahead of him."
So what advice does Berman give to David Goldman to help his son acclimate?
"I think he needs to block the media out," Berman says. "His son is probably going to need some therapy to help him make sense of what's happened. It's incredibly confusing for a child to experience what he has gone through, and his father's likely to see some things that may surprise him. His son may regress. He may have trouble sleeping, eating, playing. He may act out some things through play that may surprise or scare his father. So they could probably both use a lot of guidance."
PREVIOUSLY ON CRIMESIDER
December 24, 2009 - David Goldman Reunited with Son, Sean Goldman, After Brazilian Custody Nightmare
December 23, 2009 - Brazil Custody Case: Boy Ordered Returned to American Father David Goldman
December 22, 2009 - Brazil Custody Case: Ruling Expected Today for N.J. Dad David Goldman and Son Sean Goldman
December 18, 2009 - David Goldman's Battle to Reclaim Son Blocked by Brazilian Supreme Court
December 17, 2009 - David Goldman Fights Brazilian Court for Abducted Son and Wins; Will Sean Be Home for Holidays?
June 30, 2009 - Boy Must Stay in Brazil For Now, Judge Rules
June 23, 2009 - CBS Exclusive: Sean Goldman's Brazilian Family Tells Their Side
June 18, 2009 - "I Want To Stay Here In Brazil"
June 3, 2009 - Not So Fast: Brazilian Court Keeps American Dad From Son
June 2, 2009 - Father Battles For Son And Wins