How to Talk to Your Child’s Teacher

How to Talk to Your Child’s Teacher

At the beginning of each year, I meet with my daughter’s teachers to discuss with them how to best interact with my daughter in the classroom. My daughter experienced a trauma at the age of five and has post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. Without this meeting, the teachers might simply interpret her behavior as that of a child who is oppositional-defiant. It’s important to me that they see my daughter as a child who is responding from a state of dysregulation. I use certain talking points to convey the message that my daughter is a wonderful girl who is simply struggling to deal with the trauma she experienced.

Children of Trauma
The brain and body are connected. Trauma impacts the body-mind system. Stress is an internal reaction to an external event. When a child gets stressed, they regress to self-preservation mode. The child is in a state of dysregulation. In the state of dysregulation, there are two responses:

  1. Hypoarousal – Defiant (doesn’t appear to care)
  2. Hyperarousal – Aggressive behavior

Stress causes the regulatory system to become very sensitively conditioned to perceived threats. Perceived threats become stress-producing events, which lead the regulatory system into a state of dysregulation. Children who experience prolonged dysregulation become psychologically and physiologically sensitive to stress. When threatened, the child’s immediate response will be to protect herself from potential threat. This response is irrational, but this is, nonetheless, the child’s perception of reality.

Trauma and Memory There are four levels of Memory:

  1. Cognitive – easiest to access (recall of facts, directions, names, people.)
  2. Emotional – recall of happiness when you remember a friend.
  3. Motor – (knowing how to write, walk, talk, eat, run.) There is very little conscious thought of motor memory on a daily basis.
  4. State (Brainstem) – most difficult to access. It is believed that trauma is stored at the state level. During times of activation (stress), this level of functioning determines all of the other levels of memory. The ability to think rationally is not a reality for a child in a state of trauma.