At some point or another, children with a trauma history will begin to recount, remember, or talk about the hards parts of their story. How do we help them process through this? Here are some steps…
On an unseasonably warm night in February last year, we sat on our front porch with our children gathered around. Our objective was to assemble a new wagon we had just bought for our new farm (yes, we bought a farm!). The excitement was palpable because this wagon would carry our kids’ toys, pets, neighborhood friends, and a few of their odd inventions.
We have said this repeatedly over the past 5 years. When you gain an understanding of how trauma has changed your child, your entire parenting journey will change. Here’s why…
I will never forget the moment my mind was fully opened to the reality of what our children have experienced and why they do and say the things they do at times. It was Christmastime, six years ago. On a cold December night, something triggered our child, who has a trauma history. We were popping popcorn, pulling out blankets, and settling down in our family room for a family movie night. For reasons that remain a mystery, he wasn’t having any of it.
Earlier this week, my daughter and I had the opportunity to pre-screen the Disney Pixar film Onward. In today’s post, I’m giving you my full take on the film.
I knew it would happen. I went into the theater on Monday night expecting it. After all, what Disney Pixar film DOESN’T grab your heart and choke you up a bit?
I was expecting humor (because, HELLO, Chris Pratt playing big brother Barley? Given!). My daughter was gushing over Tom Holland (as little brother Ian Lightfoot). To say she’s a fan would be an understatement. She literally wept in the theater and had to be consoled by other patrons when Tommy boy floated away in a cloud of ash in Tony Stark’s arms during the end of Infinity War. Okay, okay…we all shed some tears during that scene. I’ll give her that one!
Sometimes we find powerful applications for life in the strangest places. Like an airplane. Where we’ve gained a simple, obvious, yet profound illustration for self care!
Kristin and I fly a lot. In fact, recently, we were flying so much that we literally swapped out with one another at the airport. I pulled up with all of our kids buckled into the car, Kristin had just landed from Denver, Colorado so she got into the car, and I got out with my suitcase and headed in to board a plane to New York City.
We know that children with a trauma history do not respond well to traditional parenting methods, especially when it comes to discipline. How then do you discipline and set boundaries with them when it’s necessary?
The truth is, your child is going to make mistakes, they are going to become dysregulated, they will need discipline, and they are going to require you to to set boundaries. This is a crucial part of parenting, regardless of your specific situation. Even though connection and trust-building are at the top of the list when you’re parenting children with a history of trauma, boundaries are a must.
Safety plans are not an abnormal part of the foster and adoptive journey. In fact, they’re necessary for many reasons. But how do you create and maintain a safety plan that keeps everyone in your home safe?
It’s easy to panic when you hear the words ‘safety’ and ‘plan’ in the same sentence. After all, when we were growing up, dreaming of becoming parents someday, those two words were probably not in our vocabulary. However, children who have a trauma history need structure, and a big part of that structure is a safety plan.
We are in the middle of the Holiday season which means Christmas parties, family gatherings, presents, and food. Lots of it. This may be a trigger for your child if he or she has a history of hunger or malnourishment. How do you successfully navigate this with your child?
The most important thing to start with here is remembrance. We must remember that behind the behavior we see externally there may be a cocktail of deep loss, deep fear, or deep insecurity swirling around in your child, that he or she may not fully understand. But it’s inside of them, and it’s a constant voice prompting them to fight. It’s a survival strategy they learned to utilize a long time ago, even before they may have been cognitively able to understand what was happening to them.
This Movie Review was written by Mike (adoptive dad) with insight from André (teen adoptee).
Disney’s live action take on the classic Dumbo soared across screens nationwide on March 29th, and I’m answering some big questions on how appropriate the film is for children who are in foster care or adopted.
As a kid, I watched the animated version of Dumbo over and over. I loved it. Even as a youngster, I stood up and cheered when Dumbo finally silenced his critics and took a leap off of that platform, spread his ears wide, and soared over the crowd. What a triumph! What a silencer of the haters! For this insecure, awkward, often picked-on little boy, Dumbo was my hero.