Thank you Dr. King; I am taking advantage of this day off of work to add some more information to our blog. Leaving this right here:
Wow! I can’t believe the information out there. This information and years of research is so important for my career, let alone adding another child who has been through trauma to our family. I am lucky to have a friend who has been through adoption, to get me started on this quest for understanding. She suggested I start with The Connected Child: http://empoweredtoconnect.org/book/ and Wounded Children Healing Homes: https://binged.it/2Ddcgtj Both have great information for ANYONE who works with children. I have come away with things I would love to share with other teachers, and I am sure Brian and I will use these as a resource when questions arise in our home, in the future. I have analyzed these books, along with some information from our IMPACT training course and a podcast by Confessions of an Adoptive Parent.
The four most important take-aways I have found thus far:
4. understanding the effects on the brain (I could go on for days and will be continuing my studies)- Trauma can stop or slow brain development across any of the 5 areas:
- Cognitive, emotional, social, moral, physical
- Though a child may seem to be growing/maturing just fine, despite their past, there may be one (or more) area(s) that he/she is not able to perform at the level of peers.
- There may be specific areas of executive functioning that a child struggles with and will need all the support and understanding that he/she may not be able to function like peers in the categories of attention, working memory, self-monitoring, time and planning, and cause and effect.
3. flexibility- Though we want our children to be successful academically (I’m such a teacher), but flexibility is key. Before our kiddos can perform academically, there may be some character traits to work on, some life skills to teach. Children of trauma are not able to just learn the standards.
2. consequences- These go hand-in-hand with #3. Life lessons and life skills need to be learned first. Wouldn’t it be great to have a checklist for all these and to check them off as you “teach” them and be done with it. 😉 No child functions that way and that is where patience and repetition come into play. It seems as though kids of trauma can digress without these, no matter how much push back they give. They need to know we adults are in charge. Here is my list of seemingly common sense tips, but not an option for kids of trauma.
- reinforcement- immediately and frequently
- don’t overreact
- private praise
- be consistent, repetitive, and predictable
- zero-tolerance for violence (verbal and non-verbal)
- shame and judgement = not an option
- limit the “no’s” – The more a child hears “no,” the more they withdrawal from my #1…see below
#1. relationships- Be present. I am hoping to share with my teacher friends that they may not realize how much of an impact they have on a child of trauma. Our kids are with teachers more than they are with us. We are choosing adoption as parents, but are hoping to have the support of our “village.” Here are what the experts say; again, they seem like common sense, but not an option for a child of trauma. This is our job; village, we will need your help with this after we have built trust and a bond with our child:
- Eye to eye contact- regulates the brain
- attach words to emotions
- believe, validate, and discuss negative emotions
- safety and self-worth
- spend time with him/her, listen carefully
the world of COMPLEX KIDS…I’ve been in this “world” for 15 years. I am so happy to have some information and research that brings some understanding to what I have been noticing in the classroom over and over again. Understanding how trauma effects children will help all adults avoid the false assumption that a child is simply unmotivated or not interested in being successful.
*Again, none of these are my words, please reference the links above. I am simply putting the information together from what I have researched thus far…so I don’t forget.