10 Keys to Healing Trauma in the Foster and Adopted Children

  1. Trauma creates fear and stress sensitivity in children. Even for a child fostered from birth, their internal systems might already be more sensitive and fearful than that of a child who has been able to remain with his biological parents.
  2. Recognize and be more aware of fear in your child. Be more sensitive to the small signals, such as clinging, whining, not discriminating among strangers, and so forth. All are signs of insecurity that can be met by bringing the child in closer, holding, carrying, and communicating to the child that he is feeling scared but you will keep him safe.
  3. Recognize the impact of trauma in your own life. Understanding the impact of past trauma in your own life will help you become more sensitive to when your reaction is coming from a place other than your existing parent/child experience. Re-experiencing past trauma is common when parents are placed in an ongoing stressful environment.
  4. Reduce external sensory stimulation when possible. Decrease television, overwhelming environments, the number of children playing together, and large family gatherings. When it’s necessary that these events occur, keep the child close.
  5. Do Time-In instead of Time-Out. Rather than sending the stressed and scared child to the corner to think about her behavior, bring her close to you and help her feel safe and secure. Internally, this will then permit her to think about her actions.
  6. Do not hit traumatized children! Doing so will only identify you as a threat. The biblical verse about sparing the rod and spoiling the child speaks to guiding your children. A rod is used to guide the sheep, and the staff is used to pull the sheep back into line when they stray. Hitting children, just like sheep, will cause them to become frightened of you and run away or hit back.
  7. There is never enough affection in the world. A simple technique is the affection prescription is 10-20-10: Give a child 10 minutes of quality time and attention first thing in the morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 in the evening.
  8. Encourage an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in the classroom to develop an understanding of your child’s stress and fear. This might assist in addressing such important areas as homework, playground, peer interaction, lunchtime, and physical education. All are common areas of reduced structure and increased stress.
  9. Educate yourself regarding the impact of stress and trauma on families. Many resources are available at www.postinstitute.com, www.facebook.com/postinstitute, www.bryanpost.com, www.Dr. Karyn Purvis.comwww.celebratecalm.com, www.youtube.com/postinstitute.
  10. Seek support. Parenting a child with a trauma history can take a toll on the best of parents. Seek a support system for occasional respite care, discussing of issues, and the sharing of a meal. Such small steps can go a long way during particularly stressful times.

In closing, give yourself time to refuel, connect, and communicate. Remember that a secure parental relationship is the single greatest gift you can give your child. Breathe, love will enter, peace will follow. And remember to choose love.

If you like this information and you feel more would be valuable for helping you with a challenging child please contact the Post Institute