Trauma Tips with Lindy Johnson

March 5, 2020


AKB Trauma Trainer & Director of Organizational Health

There's a harsh and heart-breaking reality in working with children and youth from foster care. Adverse childhood experiences harm the developing child and it often shows up through confusing or negative behaviors. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Institute, trauma may look like:

Hyperactivity or Hypervigilance          Increased medical problems
Problems with boundaries                  Oppositional behavior
Self-destructive behavior                    Difficulties with focusing or regulation
Sleep disturbances                             Social isolation
Anger and/or aggression                    Reenactment of past trauma experiences
Altered perception of reality                Withdrawn or distant

Is there good news? Yes! Even though the pathways in the brain may be wired together in an unhealthy way, through relationship and understanding in both the child AND the caregiver, a healthy rewiring can take place. A child can learn to trust and receive love and correction. A caregiver can learn patience, how to adjust expectations and love unconditionally.

Be curious instead of judgmental. When you see behaviors or attitudes from a child who may have experienced trauma or toxic levels of stress, rather than asking yourself,  “What’s wrong with him or her?” shift your internal questions to, “What happened to this child that led them to behave this way?” and “What do they need?”  Then maybe ask the child directly, "What do you need?"
Shifting our response as adults addresses the root and heart of the matter rather than reacting to a symptomatic behavior. Learning to view behavior as the language of unmet needs, we can better explore what’s really going on with the child or teen.

Interested in learning more about trauma?
Check out Lindy’s collection of Trauma Tips

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