Laura Phipps, MSW, Clinical Instructor of Family and Children’s Resource Program (FCRP) discusses how repeated traumatic events can lead to cognitive delays in children. Children may also experience behavioral problems that can result in poor communication skills and difficulty trusting others. The importance of approaching behaviors in a tailored way to meet the needs of individual children is explored. One of the main skills to help encourage behavior change is for the caregiver to focus on building rapport and practicing empathy with their children. Advice for caregivers is reviewed, including understanding it is a timely process to change behavior.
This foster parent training course includes four short videos describing the different ways trauma and behavior are connected. Laura Phipps, MSW, Clinical Instructor of Family and Children’s Resource Program (FCRP), explains how trauma affects the brain, the need for tailored approaches to behaviors, the impact of relationships, and supportive feedback for caregivers of individuals experiencing difficult behaviors.
In the first lesson, “How Trauma Affects the Brain,” Laura Phipps discusses how some children have cognitive delays due to repeated traumatic events. These children are shown to have an overabundance of the stress hormone cortisol, which negatively impacts the process of normal neurodevelopment. These cognitive delays can result in problematic behaviors. In addition, children with disorganized attachment may have a hard time interacting with the world around them. Some of the issues these children deal with include struggling to trust others, and appropriately communicating their needs. Additionally, there is discussion about the importance of identifying trauma triggers and how reactions to the triggers can present as bad behaviors.
The second lessons is “Why Does the Cookbook Approach Not Work for Many Behavior Problems?” Laura Phipps touches on the importance of not approaching a behavior with the same strategy, even if the behavior looks similar in two different children. To treat the behaviors appropriately, it is necessary to understand the meaning behind the behaviors. Part of understanding the behavior, is by recognizing patterns over time. For example, there is a scenario presented where two children are isolating. One child may be isolating so someone will seek them out, whereas another child may be withdrawn because they are afraid of engaging in relationships.
The third topic, “The Importance of Relationship” explains the importance of building rapport and trust with a child to help change behavior. An essential piece to initiating this type of change, is to help the child understand that good people can make bad choices. Many children with trauma history may believe that they are a bad person due to their bad behaviors. Along with building trust, adults must be honest, predictable, reliable, and consistent to gain the respect and trust from children. Showing and practicing empathy and genuineness also helps children improve their ability to trust.
The final lesson, “Advice for Struggling Caregivers,” provides caregivers with some tools and recommendations to help manage challenging behaviors. This includes acknowledging that the work is difficult, and it is OK to ask for help. Laura Phipps reminds caregivers that the challenging behaviors may come across as personal, but it is important for them to remember that the behavior is about something else to satisfy a need. Consistency and patience are key as well. The video ends with a reminder that it takes time for behaviors to change and reaffirms the need for caregiver support.
For a full transcript of the video’s this course is based on, click here.