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How To Help Traumatized Children At School

Broken home, drug addicted parents, child abuse – the list is endless. Kids suffer from violence at home and they are being neglected. It is highly important to notice the problems as early as possible. Teachers can become a friend in need and help traumatized children get better.

According to research in neuro science, traumatized kids are very vulnerable and choose attack as the best defense. There is a study conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) leave a significant impact on a child’s behavior. The higher the score of ACEs a person has, the more susceptible they are to aggressive outbursts, mental illnesses, and premature death.

The results of any trauma are obvious. The question is ‘How to help those kids? Is there anything a teacher can do?’ Educators and teachers can help more than anybody. They need to notice the traumatized behavior first. It can explode in a negative thinking, inappropriate sayings or even suicidal talks. Those kids are the victims of constant toxic stress that is poisoning their brains and souls.

Traumatized children differ in a way they perceive studying. It is not enough to merely tell them, ‘If you study hard, you will reach success.’ It is often not their fault that they did not manage to do their homework or fail to concentrate at a lesson. There is an absolutely different life going on back home: yelling parents, poor families, and high-stress environment.

Teachers adopted a special approach towards traumatized kids at Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington. Instead of stressing out and bursting out themselves, they apply ‘love hormone’ strategy. How does it work?

Imagine a traumatized student having a fight. Teachers would not yell at them, but rather send them to a special ‘quiet room’ to drink some water and cool off. Only after a child calms down a bit, they will talk to them and ask what is bothering their students. The strategy prevents a child from exploding into screaming or rage at the teacher. It also helps an educator to calm down and become more reasonable than in a state of stress.

Another thing that can help traumatized students is a kind word or even a hug. Such kids do not receive enough love and care at home. That is why they become so ‘cold.’ So why don’t teachers melt their hearts and help them escape from the wheel of life when children become the copy of their alcoholic or addicted parents?

It does not mean there are no consequences for the children who start a fight or have aggressive behavior. However, there is a difference in how you treat these kids and the situation. If you speak calmly to a child and try to sympathize with them, the whole attitude changes. You can provoke the feeling of guilt. As a result, a child can change.

Lincoln School experiment showed that we trigger particular kids’ behavior. Language and tone of voice are crucial in interaction with traumatized children. If you think they do not notice, you are mistaken. They notice even more than other kids.

Schools all over the USA, either big or small, are trying to change their approach towards traumatized children. They apply new strategies and learn how to improve their communication. Interaction based on trust is what leads to understanding.

In the long term, there will be special practices for all teachers to adopt trauma-informed practices and improve children’s lives. We need to help them, as their future is our future.

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