crossposted from TraumaAdoption.org
One of the challenges of being a parent to a Child of Trauma is developing a team that can work together to serve the child’s best interests. There is often the tendency to want to hide problems before they become problems in the interest that an issue may not arise. I would suggest that this is a bad course of action that will ultimately be problematic. This is especially true when you are dealing with the classroom.
A Child of Trauma will often seem perfectly fine at school. He or She has become an expert at hiding feelings, depending on no one, and manipulating situations to his or her perceived benefit. This is a natural and normal thing for these kids to do. It was necessary in order to survive. But in a normalised world this does not serve the Child of Trauma. The problem is that these kids can’t just turn on or off the wiring created deep in the brain. In all fairness, it is rather amazing that the Child of Trauma has adapted so well as to be able to survive. School can be a place of enormous stress. Stress generates fear. Fear stimulates the amygdala. The amygdila kickstarts the adrenals. Before you know it, a Child of Trauma can trigger for no apparent good reason. This response can range from simple retracting from the world right up to a violent physical response.
I think it is good for a teacher to get to know a child a little bit before details about the child’s condition are shared. The Child of Trauma really doesn’t need a stigma attached to him or her. All our children have something special, lovable, and wonderful to share. Let the teacher see a little bit of that. A week or two after your child has had a chance to be immersed in the class, set up a quiet parent teacher interview to discuss your child’s situation. I like sharing a copy of “The Explosive Child” with the teacher at this time.
1) Discuss your child’s condition in a non-judgemental way. No excuses, but no negative expressions either. Be matter of fact.
2) Bring a couple pages on your child’s condition with you to leave with the teacher. There are many such printouts available online whether they relate to RAD, ADHD, PTSD, or something else. You will probably want to stress that your child won’t display all the symptoms on such general literature.
3) Let the teacher know that you view them as an element in the overall “village” who is helping your child to heal and become whole. That you see them as a partner in an alliance.
4) Keep your meeting upbeat.
5) Give the teacher your email address. Make it clear that you are happy to have communication about issues at any time.
6) Keep the lines of communication open. Check in.
It is quite possible that your child may begin processing past experiences in class. If the teacher notices this, it could be very helpful to your kiddo’s therapist to know what is up.
It takes a community to raise a Child of Trauma. Use every resource at your disposal to save your child. Avail yourself of the people and institutions that can help you shepherd that little soul you’ve taken into your your life to a place where he or she can be productive and as happy as possible. Don’t ever accept second best. Your child has already been given the short end of the stick. It is your job to turn that around.