Credit hours:

Course Summary

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences range from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to parental divorce or the incarceration of a parent or guardian. Many foster children have experienced multiple traumatic events in their childhood. It’s imperative that foster parents and other child welfare stakeholders be informed about how trauma impacts the children they care for.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • about the connection between adverse childhood experiences and health outcomes
  • how response to stress can impact child and adolescent development
  • features of trauma-informed services
  • the perspective of young people who have experienced trauma
  • ways that foster parents can provide trauma-informed support to children and youth

Step 1

Learn how childhood trauma unfolds across a lifetime from Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris in the video, How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across A Lifetime:

Step 2

Learn what trauma is, how young people respond to trauma, and how trauma-informed services benefit young people in foster care by reading the article, "Trauma-Informed Practice with Young People in Foster Care".

Step 3

Review the JBS International article, "Youth and Family Perspectives on Trauma-Informed Care" and learn how identifying trauma may help to overcome it.

Step 4

Review the Fostering Perspectives article, "Trauma-Informed Parenting: What You Should Know", to obtain valuable trauma informed parenting information. 

Step 5

Learn what the impact of untreated trauma has on a young person, understand your child’s behavior in reaction to trauma, and practical tips to help your child overcome trauma in the article "Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Trauma".

Step 6

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

How might a parent manage discipline differently for a child who has experienced trauma? You are encouraged to use a real-life example, if you have one (but please don't use any names in your story).

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Course Discussion

Shawn Hughes's picture

Shawn Hughes said:

The effect of trauma is real whether it is a stressful event or traumatic event in a child's life. As adults we can be the difference maker in how they relate in the future.
ericjo50's picture

ericjo50 said:

Know the child's story, figure out things that may trigger them. Give them tools to use to calm them. We have a small child now that has witnessed a lot of violence, therefore he uses violence as a way to handle situations. We are teaching him different ways to redirect his anger so that he doesn't repeat the trauma he has witnessed.
jmangen1974's picture

jmangen1974 said:

Be aware of what the trauma is that the child experienced. If the trauma is verbal abuse, remember to watch your tone. If the trauma is physical abuse, watch how you approach the child....quick movements and specific body language can trigger things in the child's mind. Give the child tools to handle the emotions they are experiencing.
hanson1010's picture

hanson1010 said:

How might a parent manage discipline differently for a child who has experienced trauma? It's tricky to relearn parenting in this situation, but you have to. Often times this means changing the way you parent your biological kids. The harsh tones you may have used with them to show disapproval might be triggers for a child who experienced trauma. You have to have a lot more patience and be very attentive to how a child responds always looking for signs of triggers.
Jodi.1432's picture

Jodi.1432 said:

How might a parent manage discipline differently for a child who has experienced trauma? You are encouraged to use a real-life example, if you have one (but please don't use any names in your story). Any discipline you may have used for your own children just goes out the window. I'm not going to lie, we are all still struggling with this one. Our oldest grandchild has terrible outbursts. I feel that we have not even scratched the surface of what she is going through and usually, her behavior gets out of control when she is asked to do anything that she does not want to do. She goes crazy and there is nothing we can say or do to help her calm down at that point. One thing that I have noticed that helps the most is for me to stay completely calm....which when you are being called every name in the book, is very hard. Sometimes I look back at how I handled things and realized that I did a terrible job. Why am I arguing with her? it just makes the whole situation worse.... So... I MUST stay calm, even though I'm being attacked. Sometimes she will go to her room and other times, she will not. We have decided that if she must run, she can't go past the stop sign down the street. She has to stay within a certain area so that we know that she is safe. Once she gets to where she is going, I go in and just try to sit with her and say nothing. Just let her cry, yell, look at me, or whatever. After a while, she will just start opening up and telling me things that are horrible... But, she is able to deal with things then. And it helps her a lot to know that I am ok just sitting with her and her knowing that I am there.
tessarbrown's picture

tessarbrown said:

Patience and understanding go a long way
Kaaron07's picture

Kaaron07 said:

Remember to be very patient and don't take the child's behavior personally--extend lots of compassion to your child.
mmiester's picture

mmiester said:

Learning about childhood trauma and labeling the many ACEs was extremely helpful .
teamgile's picture

teamgile said:

One of my son's grew up on in orphanage in a foreign country. Food was often an issue when he came home. In the orphanage there was little food and the weaker children (including my son) had to eat very fast and guard their food or it would be taken by others who were quicker than others. Upon arriving home my son ate without chewing and FAST! He didn't hoard food as many do, but he was very weary of anyone trying to take his plate away until he was done. We gave him a lot of grace and room to eat in peace and not go near his plate. We allowed him to eat until he was full and to show him that dinner time was suppose to be a pleasant experience. We laughed and talked while we ate. It took a long time, but he eventually came around. He is cognitively delayed, so he was really not able to tell us what he was experiencing or had experienced. But being informed of the possibility of a struggle with food we watched and reacted appropriately. This helped his healing. He has been home with us 15 years and he still eats FAST! and rarely chews, but he lingers at the table and laughs and talks with us. This is just his way. We encourage him to eat slower, that there is plenty of food for him. It is just a very deep trauma that will probably never go away. We love him, regardless.
gdmj0311's picture

gdmj0311 said:

Wow, It is such an eye opener to see how traumatic events can truly scare someone for life. learning all this has explained some issues that we have with our foster child. great information.