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

patriciaj's picture

patriciaj said:

try to understand what they are going through and talk about whats going on and let them know you are their no matter what.
KirkMarshall7337's picture

KirkMarshall7337 said:

Time in vs time out. Drawing the child in rather than pushing them away.
Every1Deservesahome's picture

Every1Deservesahome said:

One of the best things here is " Respond, don't react." It is definitely an acquired skill and it does take being really mindful that responding can be healing and reacting can be triggering something. Usually the youth is reacting to something, or another, and maybe very poorly. Responding can help them regain composure, reacting won't.
riverreines's picture

riverreines said:

time in instead of time out, no corporal punishment, give more chances and help them regulate their emotions and calm down vs discipline,
KTubbs22's picture

KTubbs22 said:

Although it is always important for parents to respond to behaviors instead of simply reacting, it is even more critical when the child exhibiting the behaviors has experienced trauma. Adults need to recognize possible triggers and reasons for behaviors before responding to them in a typical manner. Every child reacts differently. Children who experience trauma may have stronger reactions or negative effects to raised voices or strong eye contact. Understanding possible triggers and remember to respond instead of reacting will be helpful for all adults, especially those who may need to discipline children who have experienced trauma.
Tubbsfuss's picture

Tubbsfuss said:

It is important to remain calm and to try to understand the behavior. Behaviors do not happen in isolation, they are often a way for the child to communicate. Our foster daughter is currently non-verbal. Each behavior happens for a reason and we need to try to figure out what she is trying to communicate with us.
hsflowers's picture

hsflowers said:

When parenting a child who has experienced trauma, it is important to remember to discipline in a way that is sensitive to their past experiences. You want to try not to trigger any previous bad memories. You also need to remember that behaviors may be rooted in trauma and that they are truly not a behavior that needs to be disciplined but you need to respect that the child is having a moment of fear or insecurity from their past.
colecars's picture

colecars said:

With our foster daughter my wife and I have changed the way we interact with her in order to not trigger a trauma response. We speak to her in a calm voice, and try to be as kind as possible. This is most important when we are disciplining her. We have also informed others, such as family, friends, and her teachers about the need to ensure they are approaching her in a manner that will make her feel safe.
cbcole's picture

cbcole said:

Our 3 year old foster daughter who has experienced trauma is very sensitive to the moods and demeanor of adults, and is triggered if she senses that an adult is upset with her. My husband and I realized early on in our time with her that we needed to communicate with her in a very calm and kind manner in order to not trigger her. We are not perfect at this, especially when we are tired or stressed, but we strive to make her feel safe and loved by how we interact with her, especially when we are having to correct her behavior. She is now in Pre-K and we have communicated our daughter's need for calm and kind interactions with adults to her teachers and the program director in an effort to lessen triggers at school for her.
Ryan Kelley's picture

Ryan Kelley said:

In order to manage discipline, it is important to communicate what behavior is expected, what will not be tolerated as well as show empathy and support on how to work through the more difficult lessons. Growing up in a home where physical discipline was regularly used, I have my own ideas on what works and what doesn't work. My wife and I have different strengths when it comes to discipline and I think each situation is unique. Some children respond well to "time out", while others need regular "time-ins". It really is about being sensitive to the child in the moment, staying consistent and modeling the appropriate behavior.