yChildren in foster care can exhibit challenging behavior that’s difficult to manage at times. This is because many of the children who come into foster care have experienced trauma of some sort.
While every child has times when they struggle to handle a situation, a child who has experienced trauma may have more of those times. Their responses can seem extreme, like hitting, screaming and biting, or they may be less assertive like pouting, withdrawing and sulking. Whatever the response, being trauma informed helps caregivers identify and solve the underlying problems that are causing the behaviour.
What is a traumatic event?
Because trauma comes in many forms, adults sometimes overlook the extreme impact that certain events have on young children, even babies. Traumatic events can be anything from exposure to violence, abuse or neglect to the loss of a loved one or bullying. All of these experiences threaten the life or physical integrity of the child or someone important to them. This causes an overwhelming sense of terror, helplessness and horror which has lasting affects.
How does trauma affect children?
Children who experience trauma carry with them a myriad of overwhelming negative beliefs and expectations. About themselves: worthless, powerless, in danger of being hurt, and about you as a caregiver: unresponsive, unreliable, dangerous. This system of beliefs is not about you personally, but understanding what your child feels plays a critical role in helping them move on to have healthy relationships.
What causes this negative behaviour?
A trigger is a reminder of a past trauma. This reminder can cause a child to feel overwhelming sadness, anxiety, or panic. When your child has a reaction make note of the time, place and what they were doing. Share this information with the team supporting your child. It may take a while for you to recognize the trauma triggers that evoke intense feelings for them but as you discover what sets them off, you can reduce their exposure to it.
How can therapeutic parenting skills help?
Always offer a secure base of love and protection. Be available, physically and emotionally, even when the child doesn’t seem to care. Expose our child to safe opportunities then provide guidance and support.
Most importantly, be patient and give things time. Remember that your child is not being rebellious or overreacting. They are experiencing a response to past trauma and this is completely valid.
At Satori, we believe that an understanding of trauma and access to ongoing therapeutic parenting resources is critical to success. To learn more about becoming a foster parent contact Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.