The December Childhood Trauma Newsletter: Building Resilience in Children with Trauma

Embarrassing mom truth: When my toddler was learning to walk, I asked my mom friends if I could put a helmet on her so she wouldn’t bump her head. This mama instinct came from a desire to protect my child from harm, an intense intuition many mothers feel. 

Thankfully, a friend talked me out of the helmet with common sense. How would she learn to be safe if she never got hurt? Children need to experience natural consequences to learn how to protect themselves. I’ve learned since then that I can’t always protect my daughter. She wouldn’t learn anything if I did. She has to fall down so her muscles can gain the strength to get up again.

In the same way, I often find myself wanting to buffer her from emotional pain. An emotional helmet or shield, if you will. But, if we want to build emotional resilience in our children, we also need to let them experience disappointment, sadness, anger, and anxiety so they can practice how to handle it and learn that feelings can’t destroy them.

When we eliminate all emotional pain for our children, it feels good FOR US at the moment, but what we’ve actually taught them is avoidance, not resilience. 

The problem with avoidance is it typically creates more anxiety. When we avoid something, our brain starts to believe that we should be fearful of the thing we’re avoiding. Avoidance is the behavioral representation of fear and anxiety. Spending time with what makes us anxious reduces our anxiety if it is done in baby steps with people we trust.

When we allow children to avoid everything that scares them, we reinforce their fear that the world is scary and unsafe. And let’s be honest: children who have experienced trauma already believe the world is a scary place. We shouldn’t deny this thinking, but we can provide the connection and emotional support they need to feel able to handle whatever life brings. 

So, what do we do when a child is fearful to help them build resilience? 

Resilience is built through trust and attachment with a safe and loving caregiver. Something many children with trauma never experienced. Therefore, building a sense of safety and trust with the child will likely increase their tolerance for disappointment, anxiety, and frustration.

A strategy that works for many families is to allow the child to engage in mild-moderate stressors while giving them an “out.”

For example, if your child is afraid to go to a drop-off Birthday party because it’s triggering their valid fear of abandonment, ask them if they would be okay with going for 15 minutes, and if they’re not having fun after the time frame is up, you will wait nearby to pick them up. Another option is to go with them to the party for 15 minutes, and if they are feeling comfortable, you can leave. 

Nine times out of ten, your child will be having fun when you check in on them, and will not want to leave. However, if they want to leave, it’s important to honor their decision, or they won’t trust you next time you provide an option like this. 

Is it a failure if your child decides to leave the party? No. It is still a success because at least they got to practice facing their fear in a small dose with the support of their parent/caregiver. 

Children need small to medium doses of anxiety-producing experiences with the guidance of your love and support so they can learn how to handle their fears. 

NEVER force the child into a situation. The child MUST authentically agree to participate. If you don’t have their consent, it could be a triggering circumstance, or they might not be ready for the situation, yet. Trust your child’s intuition.

You can also try reducing the “dose” of stress and see if that helps. Ex) Instead of 15 minutes at the party, it’s 10. 

Manageable steps into their anxiety with the support of a compassionate caregiver is the path to resilience. The trust and attachment that deepens in your relationship with the child through the above process allows them to tolerate more and more anxiety. 

Upcoming FREE Webinar

This past week, I hosted a free webinar on supervised visitation, and due to the popularity of this topic, I will be hosting it again on Tuesday, December 19th, at noon EST. 

During this event, we will explore various topics on SV, such as understanding the emotional impact on children with a history of trauma, creating a safe and nurturing environment, and promoting healthy communication after the visits. I will share my expertise and experiences, offering guidance on navigating the challenges that may arise before, during, and after visits with biological parents.

Whether you are a biological/foster/kinship parent seeking guidance or a professional in the field, this event will equip you with the tools and knowledge to help children cope with supervised visitation. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from experts and connect with others who share similar experiences.

Register now to secure your spot for this valuable online event. Together, let’s make a positive difference in the lives of children.

Your Opportunity to Advance the Practice of Social Work

A colleague of mine is seeking social workers with therapeutic play/play therapy experience to participate in an online Zoom interview or option to answer the interview questions via email. The study explores how social workers use therapeutic play to enhance the early relational health of infants and young children (0-5yrs) who have experienced developmental trauma/ACEs. If you want to share your practice insights to advance social work practice, please contact Tanya Ward at wardtan@deakin.edu.au.

 

My Podcast Interview with Life in Mid-Bloom

Listen to Part 1 and Part 2 as April Pruitt interviews me about how to help children heal from trauma.

From the show notes:

Beth’s impactful work and dedication to this crucial cause have left an indelible mark on the landscape of support and care for young survivors. I am eager for you to listen to our conversation, exploring not only her professional insights but also the personal motivations that drive her commitment to this vital cause. 

Resource of the Month

Season 2 of All Connected, an animated video series I co-created with ConnectOurKids.org is currently being released! For the next 11 weeks, a new video will come out on Thursday morning. Each episode provides entertaining trauma-informed guidance for teens who have experienced childhood trauma. Watch episode two of season two below, and let me know what you think. I respond to every email I receive and love getting your feedback! This is one of my FAVORITE episodes. It helps young people learn how to find the therapist that is right for them.

https://youtu.be/b3IFhEoYBn8?si=GyhmTSpdKlRVMRW4
Season 2, episode 2

Let’s Work Together! 

I am scheduling training/speaking and consulting for Spring 2024. If you are looking for a subject matter expert on advanced interventions for childhood trauma, ambiguous loss, kinship care, supervised visitation, children’s grief, vicarious trauma, or other topics in children’s mental health, contact me so we can schedule a time to chat.  

Contact Me

Trauma Champions of the Month

Katie Casey and Sarah Todd

WellRootedPA.org is a non-profit organization that is near and dear to my heart. It is operated by Sarah Todd and Katie Casey, two very busy foster moms committed to changing the outcomes for youth who age out of the foster care system in Pennsylvania.

“Aging out” is what social workers call it when a child enters the foster care system but is never adopted by a family. It is a devastating and often unnecessary experience for these children. As you can imagine, they need all the support they can get, and this is where WellRooted steps in providing trauma-responsive mentors. I got to know Sarah and Katie when they hired me to create their custom trauma-informed mentor training this past summer, and I’m so proud of the vital work they are doing in my community. Consider donating to WellRooted this holiday season, and at the very least, follow them on Instagram. You’ll be glad you did! 

What’s New at BTTC?

New Collaborations

I was chosen as a member of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Community Advisory Board for Traumatic Brain Injuries, PTSD, and Suicide. I am honored to hold this position as we advocate for children’s mental health in my home state of PA!

New Book Coming Soon!

My 2nd children’s book to help children cope with supervised visitation is almost finished! Thank you to everyone who helped me choose a title for the book on my social media platforms. After much, much thought, I’ve named it Sullivan Goes to See Mama. This poignant story guides a child and his grandmother through the stressful feelings that accompany the experience of supervised visitation when a parent is working to improve their decisions in life. 

I chose this topic as my 2nd children’s book because supervised visitation is one of the most common challenges for families coping with foster care and divorce. Yet, there are very few resources available for children. While doing research for the book, it was hard to find reputable articles on how to help children through the trauma of supervised visitation. With this new book, children will be emotionally prepared for what to expect before, during, and after visits with their biological parents

If you work with kinship families or know a grandparent raising their grandchildren, consider my first children’s book, A Grandfamily for Sullivan, as a gift this holiday season.

I will announce an in-person and virtual launch party for Sullivan Goes to See Mama in 2024, so stay tuned! 

I am partnering with a non-profit called TARNetwork.org to provide trauma-responsive guidance and education to children and families. The TARNetwork aims to help people heal from the trauma of “Toxic Abusive Relationships,” a phrase coined by Dr. Jamie Huysman, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 30+ years of experience, and Founder of the TARNetwork. Dr. Jamie, as many know him, has a vision of creating community centers across the state of Florida for people coping with traumatic relationships and narcissistic abuse. I encourage you to check out their website to learn more and get involved in this movement! 

Next month, I should have an announcement about the work I will do to build resilience in children throughout Central Florida. Stay tuned for more information! 

Favorite Things List

Last night, I hosted the 2nd Annual Favorite Things Dinner Party with some of my closest friends. Since we had such a blast sharing our favorite things with each other, I decided to do something different and share my personal list with YOU! (Affiliate links are included below).

I hope you find a gift idea or something special for yourself in the list of my favorite things! Since I’ve never shared a list like this, let me know if you like it or not.

The only thing I really want for Christmas is a drama-free holiday, Trauma Champions! As you know, this time of year can be tricky for children with trauma. This is my reminder to myself to lower our expectations and give them ample time to rest and connect with us. 2024 is filled with hope and opportunities for healing. Keep trying until you find what works. 

I’m so grateful you take the time to read my newsletter each month. If you find it inspiring, please forward it to a friend.

If you received this newsletter from a friend, you can subscribe on my homepage HERE.

With gratitude,

Beth

0
Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products