Understanding and Supporting Children with Trauma Experiences


According to the ASHA Wire (November 2020) , research has been showing increasingly that children experiencing chronic, low-grade stress such as living in a home environment with instability or less parent involvement can be negatively impacted as much as from a single traumatic event. Signs of trauma in children can range from subtle to overt and can include:



~unpredictable behaviors


To best support children with trauma experiences, it is recommended to:

~Avoid modeling strong emotions: It is reported that modeling strong emotions to kids who have experienced trauma can be triggering. Surprisingly, even showing extreme positive emotions like high levels of enthusiasm, excitement, and praise can also be triggering.

~Don’t force connections: For some kids with trauma experiences, it can take longer than the average child for them to establish trust with an adult. It is recommended that rapport building with children with trauma not be forced too strongly and that adults don’t become frustrated or critical of children who seem slower to warm up or are more challenged when trying to establish a relationship with.

~See the underlying reason for behaviors: For kids with trauma, some non-preferred behaviors are actually underlying panic responses established given their responses to trauma.

~Create firm but flexible expectations and boundaries: For kids with trauma experiences, the most supportive environment is one that is safe, predictable, positive, and understanding. It is recommended that for children with trauma experiences, adult caregivers should require fewer demand of them and give them extra time to complete tasks, cope with challenges, and move between activities.

~Change views of success: Academic tasks may be highly effortful, contributing to increased breakdowns at home. It is recommended that adults prioritize participation, effort, attempts made to complete tasks, and emotional regulation over a child’s amount of work completed, grade, or performance.

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