Are you parenting a child who has experienced trauma?
Are you parenting a child who has a capital letter syndrome — such as ADD, ADHD, FAS, SPD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder — or another special need?
If so, then this is for you!
When it comes to parenting kids who have experienced trauma, I struggle with imposter syndrome. I often ask myself, “How can I help other parents when I couldn’t do it perfectly or even well myself sometimes?”
We must let go of the myth that perfect parents exist. They don’t. And raising kids who have had trauma means a huge learning curve for us parents — especially if we have parented our bio children okayish with great results.
Traditional parenting is for securely attached children — kids who want to please. Any sort of parenting requires a foundation of connection with the child. That connection comes more easily with kids who haven’t experienced trauma. For those who have, the foundation is absent or shaky, and as a result, the child feels no need to follow commands or listen.
Traditional parenting tends to swoop in and fix the immediate problematic behavior. It is a short-term approach that doesn’t work with kids who have trauma. Instead, you need to take the time to consider the need behind the child’s behavior and focus on the ultimate goal of connection.
Kids who have trauma care more about control and survival. When a child has a disorganized attachment style born out of trauma, he will want to control his surroundings. Control will trump following instructions every time. In fact, the very thing that would make him feel more connected, he will fight.
As the authors of The Connected Childexplain, “Children who encountered deprivation or harm before they were brought home lack many types of connections. They can lack social connections, emotional connections, neurochemical connections, cognitive connections, and sensory connections.”Because these connections do not exist, traditional parenting will not work. We must change our parenting to adjust to the fact that it will be different with these kiddos.
We trauma-informed parents need to know what does work!
Join me for 8 “INSTEAD OF” PARENTING SUGGESTIONS
- Instead of a lecture, use simple language (8- 12 words total).
- Instead of waiting for behavior to intensify, respond quickly.
- Instead of giving orders, offer simple choices.
- Instead of just correcting, give immediate retraining and a “re-do.”
- Instead of expecting a child to know, clarify expectations.
- Instead of isolating when a child is dysregulated, keep the child near you.
- Instead of only noticing the “bad” behaviors, offer praise for success.
- Instead of taking it personally, remember there is a need behind the behavior.