Talking and Writing

SMaloney's picture

My own disciplinary experience is around talking and writing to work through problems. While it doesn't work for all age children I think helping a child express why they did something and how there are other options both verbally and in writing can help calm the situation down and give them a stronger language with with to communicate.

Consider Discipline in Light of Trauma, in Advance

Mark Goles's picture

Discipline, of necessity, usually has to be "in the moment". Being prepared with an understanding of trauma that your child may have experienced, and anticipating at least some common discipline situations, would help avoid known "triggers" (such as physical punishment's relation to physical abuse), ensure that you are disciplining from an understanding of the child's history, and allow you to react confidently and appropriately.

That said, for any kind of discipline, it's better to acknowledge and reverse a mistake, if you made one, rather than bulling through a poor disciplinary choice. In the case of traumatized children, a mistake may be really hard to anticipate, but it may be evident by an unusual or extreme reaction from the child. In our family, we usually find that creative disciplinary approaches work better anyway -- do-overs, ways that the child can help make up for an outburst, etc. Once a situation is no longer ongoing, we also find that not being in a rush to impose a consequence -- taking time to consider -- is important.

you're safe here

Paula McCarn's picture

our 8 year old foster daughter came to us with the able of being difficult. after learning her story we understood it was important for her to know she can "count" on us and she is safe in our home. at bed time we would tell her you are safe here and hold her hand unill she relaxed. she would have flashbacks and then act out we soon recognized the warning signs and helped talk her through it . the things she may need was just a simple hug. the simple statement of "you are part of this family"

you're safe here

Paula McCarn's picture

our 8 year old foster daughter came to us with the able of being difficult. after learning her story we understood it was important for her to know she can "count" on us and she is safe in our home. at bed time we would tell her you are safe here and hold her hand unill she relaxed. she would have flashbacks and then act out we soon recognized the warning signs and helped talk her through it . the things she may need was just a simple hug. the simple statement of "you are part of this family"

you're safe here

Paula McCarn's picture

our 8 yea old foster daughter came to us with the lable of being difficult. after learning her story we understood it was important for her to know she can "count" on us and she is safe in our home. at bed time we would tell her you are safe here and hold her hand unill she relaxed. she would have flashbacks and then act out we soon recognized the warning signs and helped talk her through it . the things she may need was just a simple hug. the simple statement of "you are part of this family"

you're safe here

Paula McCarn's picture

our 8 yea old foster daughter came to us with the lable of being difficult. after learning her story we understood it was important for her to know she can "count" on us and she is safe in our home. at bed time we would tell her you are safe here and hold her hand unill she relaxed. she would have flashbacks and then act out we soon recognized the warning signs and helped talk her through it . the things she may need was just a simple hug. the simple statement of "you are part of this family"

Don't leave me

aimeejn's picture

My first foster son came to me due to severe domestic violence. His behavior was very, very, difficult, aggressive, and very hard to handle. Shortly after he came to my home he went after my cat with a toy bat and started hurting her badly. I yelled for him to stop, took the bat away, and then left the room to tend to the cat and cool down before I went to talk to him. When I returned he was crying uncontrollably about why I left him. I quickly learned that he had not only been exposed to violent behavior, but he had been left alone often. When i disciplined him after that, I made sure to stay in the room even if I needed to "take a minute" for myself before dealing with the behavior.

We Are In This Together

rdande1's picture

As a foster parent, our success involving discipline of a child who has suffered trauma includes establishing trust and demonstrating commitment that you are with them every step of the way and you are not going to abandon them. Our child got to the point where she could not hold herself together at school or at home and we experienced several emergency psychiatric meltdown events at the hospital. Recovery included a 90 day in-patient stay in a treatment that has made a tremendous difference in her recovery. She is now back home with us, stable, growing, learning, and maturity. Her child development is back on track and we are very thankful for a team of doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, teachers, and case workers who served as a safety net to help this wonderful child.

Love in the hard times

spa4x's picture

It's very easy as a parent to quickly raise your voice, or use time out. However after being educated by what abuse does to a child, after they are in a safe home I've come to a different understanding. Letting the child work through the issue to start with. If they need to yell making sure they know once they are done, you are still there for them. If they need to be distant once they are feeling unsure of how to act that is also ok. I would think once they realize that its ok to be angry, sad or mad at times and you, as the foster parent are still there to show them love might be an good way to build trust in your relationship.

Love

SeanL's picture

When a child comes to our home that has experienced trauma we need to not take any behaviors personally and we need to be calm and understanding. I have a student who was always a challenge and hard to make friends with the rest of the class. My director told me the child was going through a divorce and right away I could see and understand and I was able to find ways to help the child to cope with what they were going through. Now a year later the child is doing better and I'm glad I knew of the child's story better on so I can see what he sees through his eyes.

Trauma

sfin74's picture

Every child is different so need to learn their story and experiences first and not judge in order to effectively learn what makes them safe.

Trauma and discipline

scohorn's picture

You can't be physical, that's for sure. The best thing I have found is using a reward chart. My foster child has REALLY thrived earning and rewarding, and responds very well to not getting those rewards or celebrations.

Childhood Trauma

smittyar's picture

You must remember what the child has been through and allow them to express their feelings by talking it out. Seek counseling/therapy if needed. Always remember to be patient and discipline with love.

Disciplining a child who has experienced trauma

jandcsmith2007's picture

When disciplining a child who has experienced childhood trauma it is important to be patient with them. You also must do so in a loving manner. Also, make sure the child is receiving services (therapy, counseling, etc., if needed).

Parenting littles

smulkey's picture

We are new foster parents and have only fostered infants and young toddlers. We have not used discipline with a foster child yet, but I have already noticed my parenting to be different with the foster children versus my own child as an infant/young toddler. For example, I am very quick to respond to cries, never allowing a "crying it out" time. I also have a carrier that I wear because we had one infant that would cry every time I left the room until he became more settled. I believe trauma can begin prenatally, especially in drug exposed infants, so no matter how young, the child needs to have their cries and needs met quickly to help them form healthy attachment.

Childhood Trauma

Davisa's picture

Patience, love, experience and training will help a child going thru trauma. Through different resources available in caring for a child and consistent love, there are ways to overcome.

Trauma and Discipline

Ankromfamily1's picture

I think having an open mind when it comes to disciplines and bad behaviors is important, as is understanding what worked for one child may not work for another. In our house, the rules are the same for all the kids, but the discipline can be different. I think it's important (in our family at least) that everyone understands everyone has to obey the same rules, even us as parents (we try to model polite talk, putting away our jackets, etc).

Discipline Techniques Are Different For Children Of Trauma

derekcbart's picture

During our classes to become Resource Parents my wife and I were told that it would be helpful to watch shows such as "Supernanny." These shows were very useful in many ways, but they never showed how to deal with disciplining a child who had experienced trauma. After our first two girls were placed with us we learned this. With the help of the therapy team that we put in place we learned to avoid traditional discipline techniques, such as: timeout, taking something away, etc. and replace it with techniques such as: earning of privileges, role-playing/story-telling, etc. The difference was dramatic.

Trauma

epowell's picture

I believe that everyone experience trauma in some form sometime in life it's life, but how you approach and react varies from situation. Being able to talk and have a understanding help everyone verse keeping thing bottled in to build up and over time ruin you. In conclusion trauma can come in many forms how you choose to handle it depends on you as a person.

Trauma Reminders

jncreech's picture

It is so important to remember that the aggression, withdrawal, acting out or retreating may be a way of survival for them. Talking through these behaviors even with a child with limited verbal capacity is helpful. This allows them to connect the importance of "using their words" instead of their behaviors.

For a few weeks after arriving at our home (his sixth placement in so many months) our 4 year old foster child would run and hide even at the thought that he was "in trouble". Moreso, he would hide his face behind his hands when we got close to him. After about 2 weeks, we realized and asked..."how come you run away?". After a little processing on quite a few occasions, he replied..."i dont want you to hurt me". After reiterating that we would never hurt him...we truly understood where this behavior was coming from.

Triggers, pre-planning and discussions

Ryanfontana's picture

We have always believed in pre-planning with our kids. Keeping our kids aware of the schedule of events and things happening so they can handle situations better. If we know there is a chance for triggers we discuss this with them if we aren't able to avoid or minimize them. Open communication is also something we strive for. If we can open communication lines and provide the trust then it is hard to help them through.

start off slow

abishop97's picture

I fine out having a note book helps me to remember when things happen and the when and how and what time. So when i go over the book I ask what was we doing at that time and how can we connet and the notes helps. trig ers are are to find and we must main tane control at all times

Proactively addressing behaviors

jessdamian's picture

My 6yr. FD regresses and uses baby talk when she is stressed. I simply teach her that I cannot understand that voice and if she needs something she will have to use her big girl voice. I also remind her every day to say to herself. "I am strong, I am smart, I am beautiful and I deserve the best".

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.

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