And How Parents can Help Support their Child
Childhood trauma affects every part of a person’s life, but can be especially problematic at school. And with the impacts of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that educators and parents understand and acknowledge those effects. Beyond understanding and acknowledgement, we need to learn how to support an adopted child with trauma to help set them up for a more productive school experience.
The Negative Effects of Childhood Trauma at School
Children with trauma have often experienced the loss of trust and the feeling of safety from the adults in their lives and this pain manifests itself in multiple negative behavioral health ways. Childhood trauma causes behavior issues that can affect your child’s ability to learn and grow. These behavioral health issues can include:
- Peer aggression (bullying)
- Isolation from peers
- Seemingly unsolvable learning disabilities
- Behavioral health issues such as ADHD, RAD or ODD
These behavior issues can make it hard for children with trauma to connect with others. But not only does trauma affect their behavior and the relationships a child with trauma has with others, it can also diminish memory and concentration that can impair their ability to learn.
Behind the Science
Childhood trauma is a real brain injury. Repeated exposure to stress, or Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), has a physical effect on the brain and body. Children with trauma aren’t just “bad kids” but actually have a brain injury. In fact, MRI scans have shown a measurable difference in the amygdala, the brain’s fear response center, in children with trauma. This injury causes the brain to constantly be on high alert for more pain, causing children with trauma to act out.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your child begin to heal. This healing process takes a long time, but can help them learn to connect, share and love others. Part of that healing process includes trauma-informed teaching.
Supporting Your Child in School
A recent study found that almost 50% of students in the U.S. have experienced some trauma, making it critical that educators be equipped to support these students. Educating students with trauma requires a different way of teaching. And while more and more schools and educators are realizing this, there are many who still don’t understand trauma-informed teaching. This makes it critical that parents of adopted children with trauma advocate for their child in school to help them thrive and learn. Here is how you can help support your child with trauma in school.
1 | Advocate for Your Child
You understand more than the school does about trauma and what your child needs. Schools and educators rely on a particular system of educating kids that requires the obedience of children. However, for kids with trauma, the loss of trust in adults causes obedience issues. You will have to be your child’s biggest advocate in school.
2 | Help Educators Understand
There is a good chance that even your child’s Special Education (SPED) office is unaware of how to teach children with trauma. Your goal as a parent of an adopted child with trauma is to help your school understand the effects of childhood trauma and how they can better teach your child. Teaching children with trauma is about first building a safe, consistent and trustworthy relationship with the child. This type of teaching requires a teacher to be genuinely interested in your child as a person and not just their academic capabilities.
3 | Build a Team
Not only do you need to help your child’s school understand childhood trauma, but you need to help build a team that is proactive in creating a positive environment for your child at school. This team typically includes a trauma-trained specialist, IEP advocate, psychiatrist and others. It is also important that this entire team and your child’s teachers are all on the same page about creating a positive environment and building trust.
It is important to remember that in order to help your adopted child with trauma begin to heal, it is essential to focus on creating a safe place for your child and to give them the time they need for that healing process. It is about having all the adults in their life, including teachers, focus on creating trust and safety so that your child can begin to move forward from their trauma and thrive.
Want even more information on how to help your adopted child with trauma thrive in school? Download my free guide now with my 3 keys to success with school for your child with trauma.
Join our community on Facebook for parents of adopted children with trauma. Our mission is to end childhood trauma by equipping parents with a purpose driven approach that creates hope and healing.