May 2024 Newsletter – Impact of Trauma on Children: Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

Helping Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

With the high percentage of children in our classrooms who have experienced traumatic events or adverse childhood experiences, how do we help our students be successful? The first step is recognizing signs of trauma and then using trauma-informed practices in our classrooms. As educators, there are several ways we can support the children in our classrooms.

  • Create trusting, caring, and responsive relationships with children
  • Create safe and predictable environments where students can thrive
  • Learn to identify patterns of behavior and possible triggers in the classroom
  • Build positive behavior supports
  • Implement social-emotional learning strategies
  • Help students learn tools to self-regulate
  • Practice and model self-care strategies

Not all strategies will work for all children. Different traumas may result in different triggers and stressors, so we need to be aware of what works for each individual child.

How do we help children in a classroom with so many individual needs?  We can use some of the following strategies in our classrooms to help children who have experienced trauma.

  • Create consistent routines. Stability helps children understand that the world can be a safe place. Creating and maintaining a consistent daily routine in the classroom can help children feel empowered when they know the order of events and how they will be carried out.  Inform children when something out of the ordinary is going to occur or when a change in the routine is going to happen to help them feel more secure throughout the day.
  • Anticipate difficult periods and transitions during the school day and offer extra support during these times.
  • Offer children developmentally appropriate choices. Children can feel more in control and empowered if they are able to make even the smallest choices throughout the day.
  • Use techniques to support children’s self-regulation. Introduce deep breathing and other centering activities that can help children self-regulate. You can learn more about these types of activities in the CCEI course SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings.
  • Understand that children make sense of their experiences by reenacting them in play or through interactions with peers or adults. Teachers can help children manage their feelings by remaining composed and offering empathy and support.  Rather than becoming angry, calmly initiate healthy interactions. Be nurturing and affectionate but also sensitive to children’s individual triggers.
  • Assure children that they are safe and that you are a safe person they can come to for help. Explain that they are not responsible for what has occurred. Children often blame themselves for events that are completely out of their control. Reassure them that they do not need to feel guilty or bad about any feelings or thoughts they may be experiencing.
    • Use positive guidance to help all children. Strive to create supportive interventions to guide children to appropriate activities.  CCEI offers 3 courses on positive guidance that you might find helpful:

With support, many children who experience traumatic events are able to recover and thrive. As a caring adult, you play an important role in helping them through this traumatic event.  Be patient, some children will recover quickly while others recover more slowly.  Seek the help of a trained professional when needed. A mental health professional trained in evidence-based trauma treatment can help children and families cope and move toward recovery.

 

For the main article Impact of Trauma on Children, CLICK HERE

For the article The Impact of Traumatic Events, CLICK HERE

For the article Recognizing the Signs of Trauma and Traumatic Stress in Children, CLICK HERE

For the article How Do We Meet the Needs of Families Whose Children Have Experienced Trauma?, CLICK HERE