We finally got our course called “Understanding Trauma in Children” up and running. This is not a new topic for Heart of the Matter Seminars, it’s just that other topics and webinars were taking up our time and trauma kept getting pushed to the back burner. When we collaborated to bring a free webinar featuring Dr. Bruce Perry to families adopting or awaiting placement of a child from Haiti, it spurred us to get busy and put our course together.
What’s different about “Understanding Trauma in Children” than other papers or courses on this topic? Well, as with our other work, it’s our goal to bring the science down just a notch to be a bit more user-friendly and practical to use and to give real solutions and tools to parents and professionals. Too often, information seems to get stuck on the problem and symptoms and give very little advice for what to do about it. Or, with other parenting topics, a lot of advice is given, but there is no link with the science or research–it just seems to be that author or presenter’s opinion.
Anyway, trauma is just a bit different even from other parenting topics in that it’s so difficult to think about. It hurts to think about traumatic events, particularly happening to children. It is frightening, sickening and sometimes overwhelming. And yet, these kids need us to go there and get equipped to help them.
Let’s see… I think I mentioned that this topic is overwhelming (!!!) So much so, that caregivers can sometimes experience vicarious trauma, or secondary traumatic stress. This is true for professionals working with traumatized people and I think it must be especially true for parents (and especially newly adoptive parents) who not only want to help, but who deeply love or are falling in love with the child.
That’s tough enough… but then I think of the newly adoptive parents whose child’s coping mechanisms are less than pleasant to be around… who may be throwing *lots* of temper tantrums, attempting to control or manipulate those around them, who may not be sleeping, who might look really hyper… Wow. If you happen to be one of these parents, know that this is not really that atypical–that it happens to a lot of folks adopting older infants or children and that it almost always gets better! Hang in there with your child, get the information you need to understand that this is (as Julie Drew puts it) not to spite you, but in spite of you and is coming from a place of fear, not maliciousness. Parent as you know you should–not as you necessarily feel at that moment and most of all, take care of yourself so that you can take care of this child.