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Parenting Children Exposed to Trauma

Parenting children exposed to trauma is not always intuitive and requires a higher level of training than many of us have. Here is a resource guide on parenting children exposed to trauma. It was developed for foster parents and relative caregivers by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and shared with us by Dr. Frances Chalmers, M.D., Medical Consultant, Region 2 North.

We have all heard about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and the role early childhood trauma plays in adult medical and mental health outcomes. Trauma is better recognized as a source of many behavioral challenges seen in children in foster care. Regardless of how and why a child ends up in foster or relative care, the mere fact this has happened is a form of trauma. Often there are many more levels of trauma in addition. Unfortunately some manifestations of trauma in young children are acting out behaviors which can lead to placement failures and more trauma.

Lots of work is being done to learn how to best "treat" children with trauma experiences, in an effort to ameliorate the effect of the trauma as early as possible. This includes specific evidence based behavior therapies as well as medications. With the medications work is being done to keep in mind the rational safe and judicious use of various psychotropic medications while making available the behavioral therapies at the same time.

Parenting children exposed to trauma is not always intuitive and requires a higher level of training than many of us have. Caregivers are always encouraged to enroll in one of the various evidence based parenting classes available throughout the regions. Helping families access appropriate resources so they are prepared to help kids recover from past trauma and avoid the risk of new traumas is essential.

Parenting After Trauma: Understanding Your Child's Needs, A Guide for Foster and Adoptive Parents