Trauma

Miriammyers's picture

I think it is important that there is not only discipline but an explanation as to why the behavior is not appropriate or against rules, etc... Sometimes the children don't know any differently. I think an explanation also helps the child see that you care about them and want them to do well rather than strictly focusing on the punishment. I have also found that setting expectations before, an outing, new situation, or a situation you know the child is not comfortable with helps cut down on problematic behaviors and then less negative discipline.

Knowing your child and his

KCB's picture

Knowing your child and his/her triggers can be very beneficial to parenting a child who has experienced trauma. For example, I knew that my foster child had food insecurities in her birth home. She sometimes would act out when hungry because it would bring back times when she was left to fend for herself in regards to food. I knew that having regular mealtimes and snack times helped her feel secure and I knew to address the hunger before I addressed any misbehavior with this child.

Knowing your child and his

KCB's picture

Knowing your child and his/her triggers can be very beneficial to parenting a child who has experienced trauma. For example, I knew that my foster child had food insecurities in her birth home. She sometimes would act out when hungry because it would bring back times when she was left to fend for herself in regards to food. I knew that having regular mealtimes and snack times helped her feel secure and I knew to address the hunger before I addressed any misbehavior with this child.

Trauma in children

mcondon's picture

Children that have experienced trauma need extra love, attention, and care to overcome and thrive. Many say small children are more resilient. I wonder if it's because young children are not able to put into words the horror they experienced (or continue to experience). So we should strive to be their voice and advocate on their behalf.

Example

jessicaabraun's picture

I read a story recently of a woman who's foster child was expelled from various daycares for rage. While on a family vacation, she saw the start of an outburst (which she described as being very different from a child tantrum.) In an effort to "save" the outing, she handed the boy chocolate. This immediately calmed him. Looking back over the events in the past, they all took place around 10am and 2pm, when his little body started to get scared from a memory of hunger. I found is fascinating that so often people blame the action - the outburst - without considering the history that caused it.

Understanding

linneacnord's picture

How children react to trauma will be different with every case. It is so important to let children know they are now safe and then communicate with them to the best of their ability to find out why the behavior or what happened. Getting them the help they need is so important as well as trained individuals will be able to get to issues that we as foster parents might not be able to.

Focus on Helping the Child

kft0519's picture

You need to pay attention to your child's behaviors and actions in order to discover why they feel or act a certain way. You need to ask the child WHY they feel a certain way and not What is wrong with them. You can't discipline them using physical punishment if they have experienced trauma. You need to sit down with them and listen and help them understand that it is not their fault then work with how they can adjust to their new home. You need to help them acknowledge their trauma and teach them how to turn that trauma into a positive thing by using it as a strength. Always be understanding towards the child and try to be patient with them. Remember, this won't solve itself overnight. Know that there are also resources that you can use. You and the child are not alone in this recovery process.

Know the triggers

grncarex2's picture

Child 7 years old, first grade, in truancy, gets in trouble at school for paper airplanes and armpit fart noises. Mother with history of "snapping on the children," ignores notes sent home from school until other actions are considered by the school. She "lost it" on the child, beat him with a spatula leaving 17 cuts and bruises ranging from 1/2 to 5 inches long on head, arms, torso, buttock, and hands (his fingers looked broken). She sent him back to school the next day. The school contacts authorities just as they should have. Caseworker decides the mother should be allowed four-hour supervised visits with the child immediately after school two days a week. Everyone is busy monitoring him the day after the visit and stating all is well. Fortunately, from knowing the abuse he had suffered, the teacher and I agreed to monitor behavior when the child was placed in the same scenario that brought on the trauma. The problem was not the following day after a visit. The problem was the day of a visit. If this child missed one math problem, spelled one word wrong, anything that merited correction from the teacher, all learning shut down because he viewed the slightest error as bad behavior - he had done something wrong. He immediately went into panic mode knowing he was being sent to face his mother. He knew the possible outcome. Thank God for a Judge who immediately ended all visits on school nights.

The abuse happened approximately 45 days before school ended for his first grade year. We made it through summer. He seemed to be healing well in this particular area of his life. (There were other abuses that surfaced during this time - too many to tell.) School started for his 2nd grade year, and all seemed well, until, once again, there was a push for after-school visits with mom. He was back in the same position. He was diagnosed PTSD. Any mistakes made at school on the day of a scheduled visit with the mother was his trigger. Wrapped up in this was the fact that he carried the weight of thinking all of this was his fault, he caused it all to happen, if he just hadn't gotten in trouble in school...what a load on a 7/8-year-old's mind.

One last comment. It has frustrated and infuriated me to hear, "Oh, don't worry. Kids are resilient. He'll be alright." This class has finally given me a comeback to those replies, "You're right. Children are resilient...to a normal level of stress in their lives, but there is a line between normal stress and overwhelming trauma. This child has been pushed passed normal."

It's not the ONE big incident that got us here today. It's the accumulation of a lot of smaller ones plus other big ones that didn't get caught. My faith in God knows he will come through this strong, but there is no downplaying or minimizing what he has experienced. I'm grateful to teachers, doctors, foster parents, others in authority who pay attention, know the signs, and have compassion to help catapult children into a strong future that defies the odds previously handed to them and breaks the cycle of learned, continued abuse.

Footnote to answer the question:-) To know the triggers for the child, helps you to see if this is a typical 7/8 -year-old's day at school or acting out from the trauma. It changes the conversation with the child by helping target the area of true need.

Different Discipline

marknoah's picture

I believe in fair discipline for everyone in the house. Good structured schedule - lots of family fun - and kind and reasonable discipline. But those who come from a trauma background need to have an extra degree of understanding and patience added to the situation/resolution. Limits and guidance are important - critical even - for youth. And I always tell kids - their stories/background/trauma isn't an excuse for bad behavior. Choose to be good - do good things - define your character in a positive way INSPITE of your background. It's empowering.

get over ourselves

dandibell's picture

we have got to get to a point where we can step back, take a deep breath, not take the behavior personally so that we can see more clearly what the child needs.

Trauma

gretchennoah's picture

All children need guidance and understanding along with gentle but firm discipline. Children from a traumatic background need a loving understanding as well as the adult really trying to understand the nature of the behavior. Could some of it be from related to the trauma? Parents and caregivers would be more patient and understanding if they would understand fully why the behavior was happening.

The power of listening

anads's picture

Every child is different and what works for one may not work for another. Listening to them allows one to adapt discipline to the given child.

Discipline

mhowardjr35's picture

A child experiencing trauma will need some evaluation of triggers that could determine how you discipline.

Understanding that Trauma looks a lot like other diagnosis'

kassidybishop85's picture

PTSD in a child mimics the Autism Spectrum so much in children that KNOWING whether a child has experienced trauma or not is crucial. In a society where ADHD is easily misdiagnosed, the last thing anyone should want is for a Dr. to miss the fact that trauma was experienced and put the child under an autism umbrella rather than a PTSD umbrella.

Managing discipline

bethanc12's picture

I believe it is important to have a trauma informed approach to parenting at risk children. Be aware of certain triggers/ responses for the child you are caring for. We once had a girl that was terrified the first time we had to discipline her (time- out in a safe environment).. Before we could explain to her how time outs worked she was freaking out thinking she was going to get "a whipping". We reassured her that she was safe and I believe we sat with her during her first time out so she was able to relax. Looking back we should have explained our guidelines for discipline (time outs/ what they were/ exc) before we had to utilize a time out.

Have an open mind and remember every child is different

Desiree9157's picture

Every child is different, therefor the way that you discipline a child should be different. I believe that the mail goal of implementing discipline is to address issue at hand. if it is the same issue, then I feel that it is necessary to try and wean out the root of issue / behavior so that it can be addressed going forward. The purpose of discipline to me is to teach my children how to identify the problem as well as providing them with problem solving skills (walk away if you feel you are getting angry, use your words not your hands etc.) this enables children to grow as well as prepare them with the tools they will need to correct these issues.

discipling child who expierence trauma

TheJLedQ35's picture

In my experience you do have to know what trauma the child has experienced to understand effective means of discipline.
I had a child who would bang his head on things when you told him no- we found that redirecting to something else (since only 15 months) was the best option for him.

Every Child is Different

AlbaughM's picture

Most of us know that each child is different. Finding out what it is that they want to gain or do not want to lose is a great step in guiding a child's behavior. I haven't dealt with a child who has experienced trauma yet, and I'm sure there will be a learning curve, but we plan to parent foster children in a similar fashion as our own. My three children are all different with rewards and punishments. I often let them choose what their punishment or reward will be. This makes them feel more responsible, as I gave them a choice in the matter. Life is filled with choices. When a child has a choice they are more likely to comply with the punishment and will be willing to listen to my theory of good choices vs bad choices in life, and where they will lead you. The punishment will still fit the crime, as a lesson needs to be learned, but this way the punishment is normally more effective.

Managing discipline for the child with history of trauma

deybarry01's picture

Every child is different and so is their trauma. You have to pay attention to what is causing the behavior. Once you find the trigger you should make the child aware of the behavior. I've learned that some kids do not do well with time outs alone/sending to their room because it reminds them of being abandoned.

Discipline in trauma

tamullins's picture

The purpose of discipline is not punishment but to find the root of the issue and address it. Teaching the child to identify the heart of the issue gives hope for change and growth.

Consistent sleep avoidance

ericars's picture

When our daughter moved in with us, she refused to go to bed. She spent most nights sneaking in and out of her bedroom. While it was exhausting for both of us, but we recognized that something was triggering trauma for her. Rather than shuffling her back to bed each time, we spent several nights snuggling her to sleep, stroking her back and gently "hushing" her and singing her sweet bedtime stories.

consequeces for behavior

bclickwar's picture

we have a chart for merit and demerits.. we give one merit for every good thing done as well as good behavior.. we give demerits for bad behavior and disrespect to foster parents as well as other children.... at the end of the day we tally all merits or demerits if the merits are greater than the demerits they get rewarded... such things include ice cream,favorite toy from store, childrens park time... if no demerits for that day they get $2.00 and at the end of the week they can spend their money on what ever they want such as a movie or skating or something else rewarding.... this seems to work really well for all of us

Understanding trauma helps me understand the childs behavior

ammovsg's picture

For the longest time I felt my child was just "bad" after so much frustration of trying to make her understand that she can or can't do something we sent her for a neurological study. The study opened my eyes as to why she was behaving the way she was. It was a way for her to try and take control of her surroundings. Understanding why she was behaving that way now helps me to help her and work through her issues.

Understanding trauma helps me understand the childs behavior

ammovsg's picture

For the longest time I felt my child was just "bad" after so much frustration of trying to make her understand that she can or can't do something we sent her for a neurological study. The study opened my eyes as to why she was behaving the way she was. It was a way for her to try and take control of her surroundings. Understanding why she was behaving that way now helps me to help her and work through her issues.

discipline and trauma

NicoleFPT2016's picture

Every child is different in their own way, even if there is not trauma involved. Something that works for one child is not going to work for the next. It is important to have a loving, stable family environment for each child.

discipline and trauma

NicoleFPT2016's picture

Every child is different in their own way, even if there is not trauma involved. Something that works for one child is not going to work for the next. It is important to have a loving, stable family environment for each child.

Trauma and discipline

rrainey's picture

Understand what the child has been through, then explain why their behavior needs to be addressed. Find a subtle way to discipline without any similarity to previous punishment. For example, if the child has the responsibility to sweep a room and does it incorrectly, demonstrate the correct way and have the child redo the job. Consistancy works wonders.

Trauma and discipline

rrainey's picture

Understand what the child has been through, then explain why their behavior needs to be addressed. Find a subtle way to discipline without any similarity to previous punishment. For example, if the child has the responsibility to sweep a room and does it incorrectly, demonstrate the correct way and have the child redo the job. Consistancy works wonders.

Personalized to each child

JaiLa's picture

With trauma, I think discipline needs to be personalized to each child. Reactions will vary depending on your tone of voice, the child's sense of isolation, etc. Positive reinforcement is important. Praising as much as disciplining.

discipline and trauma

PandH Berry's picture

Each child will have experienced different levels of trauma. Simply observing what works for them with out adding to the trauma is the best method. Positive reinforcement and non violent methods of discipline will help without causing more issues.

discipline and trauma

PandH Berry's picture

Each child will have experienced different levels of trauma. Simply observing what works for them with out adding to the trauma is the best method. Positive reinforcement and non violent methods of discipline will help without causing more issues.

Building trust after trauma

keslarzmom's picture

My almost 4 yr old foster has been with me for 9 1/2 months. I'm just now starting to see a tiny bit of progress in her food obsession. She can't quite trust that she will get her next meal. She constantly asks about food...all day long. She will eat anything & everything you put in front of her - even if she doesn't like it. It's frustrating but I understand where it's coming from. If you ever deal with this, be patient and consistent. I hope eventually she trusts me to always provide for her. But in her little brain, she feels like her Mommy and Daddy didn't always feed her so I may not either.

Building trust after trauma

keslarzmom's picture

My almost 4 yr old foster has been with me for 9 1/2 months. I'm just now starting to see a tiny bit of progress in her food obsession. She can't quite trust that she will get her next meal. She constantly asks about food...all day long. She will eat anything & everything you put in front of her - even if she doesn't like it. It's frustrating but I understand where it's coming from. If you ever deal with this, be patient and consistent. I hope eventually she trusts me to always provide for her. But in her little brain, she feels like her Mommy and Daddy didn't always feed her so I may not either.

Trauma

spedteacher828's picture

My soon to be adopted son came to live with us just after his third birthday. He came to us as a foster son. His sister was an infant and was discharged from the hospital a week later. He had experienced abuse and neglect for these first three years. He doesn't remember what happened, but he does still have a memory of his mother. Since he still has court ordered visits, it's hard to help him as when he is with his mom, he gets everything he wants, etc. Them coming back to us with our rules, is a hard transition for him.

Both our foster son and foster daughter were moved from our house after being there for 13 months. Our agency made up lies and after being told that we were the adoption plan, they were moved. We got an attorney and won legal custody within five months, but the county children services continued to fight. We finally got them back after 10 months. In those 10 months, the children were in three foster settings.

There was major trauma with the toddler who had no clue what was going on. Eight months later, we are still dealing with separation anxiety with her.

explaining discipline

Melgoza626's picture

usually children in the system have have though childhood. I believe when a child grows up in an environment where she/he has to fend for them self with no support form any one. The child will be used to seeing violence and may even get used to it as a way of life. But kids that grow up in that condition have never been explained why something is good and why something is bad. I had a foster daughter that was taken away from a bad neighborhood. She told us how her every day life was before she entered the system, then she went to another foster family an got removed for bad behavior. When she moved to our house she said that she felt scared of being neglected because she has done some bad decisions but when she adjusted to the house she we as a family explained ( not yelled). Explained that this house is a new start , why what she did in the other foster family was not right and to explain that were here to help and anything she does, does not affect our family it affects her self and her future. Then she told us "i never had a talk like this about me it was always yelling at me if i did something bad" she later became more comprehensive of life and is very happy hope this helps someone. Remember patience and listening is key .

Managing a child

Vendy's picture

A child that has learned to have terrible fits can be helped by be consistent in the discipline. It is important to givr them time to calm down and to work on it slowly until you start see some improvement then give then positive feed back.

Trauma

carrie dacey's picture

Learn what programs are offered in your community

Welcome to my home!

Noodles's picture

Avoid any and all aggressiveness

Disciplining A Child Who Has Experienced Trauma

aweaver's picture

Disciplining a child who has experienced trauma requires patience, listening, and learning. We can't expect a child who has experienced trauma to behave or react the same way as a child who has not experienced trauma. Learning and knowledge are critical; we must be aware of the impact trauma has had on the child. Remaining calm and avoiding over-reacting are necessary when responding to the child's behaviors. Finally, remaining positive and focusing on the child's strengths will prove to be more effective than physical or punitive punishment.

Managing a child that has

Managsd's picture

Managing a child that has undergone some sort of trauma I feel is very individualized. Having a stable home, and taking courses in understanding trauma in children should help understand why they may act the way they do.
Our fs's come from a home of neglect bc of substance abuse and exposure and thus far, aside from developmental delays, don't have any signs of trauma- they are 21 months old now, we've had them for 4 months. Their EI and speech, PT and OT have been nothing short of amazing!

When nobody sees the problem

jverret88's picture

I have a foster daughter who just turned two. She was with me for 10 months and during that time spent the weekend in the parent's home for about 3 months before reuniting with her parent. During the weekend visits, I noticed eating habits change, sleeping habits change and her behavior changed greatly. She was returned to my care after 3 months of being in parent's home and it took 4 months to get her back to what I consider "Somewhat normal". I'm always told her behaviors are typical of other children her age and I work with young children so I can agree in some areas but I spend the most time with the child and express my concerns to have them not taken seriously. In this case, it seems as if the best interest of the child does not matter and all that matters is to work with parents. There is a therapist who will see a child this young but agency doesn't feel it is necessary. I understand the behaviors are much worse in other foster children but as a foster parent, I just really want to prevent them from getting worse. Even the transitioning back and forth from visits is trauma for the child. I even feel like separation at daycare is trauma and don't get me started with strangers. I have other foster children in the home who are close in age and my expectations for them are much higher then this child's because to get this child to do something simple is often a fight. My other children notice when this child has things a certain way or when something doesn't seem fair and it is very difficult to keep things equal.

When nobody sees the problem

Heidi Russell's picture

There should be a Child Advocacy Program in your state, besides the case worker etc. These programs go above and beyond and will get things done for the child! Utilize them they will help.

Resources provided

dcgallardo3's picture

This training as well as your comment do teach us and remind us that there are resources available to assist us in caring for a child that has experienced trauma. It is important to get to know the child as each child is unique and responds in a different way.

When nobody sees the problem

cfielders's picture

Can't you insist that a therapist at least do an evaluation? As a licensed foster home you have rights as well and the rights of the other children in your care is being affected by this.

Trauma in kids

dlbrannon's picture

We had a young boy for 2 years in our home with severe trauma and it was very difficult to discipline him, along with our 3 bio kids + another foster. He did not understand why what he did was wrong, and the other kids felt like he got away with everything. It was very hard to manage all of it. With 5 kids in the home, he was always hitting an emotional wall with someone. We learned more about Trauma Centered care and training after he left, which I feel would have helped him a lot.

Four year old with street smarts

Wendy Johnson Hebert's picture

We have a four year old foster daughter who was found walking the neighborhood at night while her mother was passed out. She recalls the cops breaking down the door to get to her mother and 3 month old sister. She came into care extremely angry at cops. When she brings up the incident we discuss how the cops were worried about her mom and her baby sister. We have worked through her anger. I have noticed she is very "street smart", she is very good at telling people what they want to hear and will befriend anyone. We are now working on healthy relationships and talking about our feelings.

Four year old with street smarts

Wendy Johnson Hebert's picture

We have a four year old foster daughter who was found walking the neighborhood at night while her mother was passed out. She recalls the cops breaking down the door to get to her mother and 3 month old sister. She came into care extremely angry at cops. When she brings up the incident we discuss how the cops were worried about her mom and her baby sister. We have worked through her anger. I have noticed she is very "street smart", she is very good at telling people what they want to hear and will befriend anyone. We are now working on healthy relationships and talking about our feelings.

managing trauma

mullen0928's picture

I currently have 3 children in my home who has had some type of trauma two of which are in therapy and one who is to little but along with doctors and therapist we are all working together to help

I currently has one child

NOOK's picture

He was physically removed from his birth home. He is a quiet child. However, he shows some signs of behavior disturbances. Sometimes he seems distant at times. In result, I encourage him to talk to me about any concerns he may have along with me personally making all attempts to talk to him and rationalize his conditions to make them as positive situation for future references.

trauma and discipline

rodgerschrista's picture

Every child and every childhood trauma is different therefore; each child needs to have a differing plan. Overall, you would want to provide a safe, loving, supportive and stable environment that focuses on positive reinforcement and love.

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