As an early childhood educator, at one time or another you have probably encountered a child who was exhibiting ‘difficult’ behaviours. However, we are learning more and more about how important it is to consider how a child’s experiences outside our care, particularly instances of trauma, that may be shaping these behaviours. This understanding can help inform more effective practices for such children in our care.
What is trauma?
Trauma is increasingly understood to be the body’s response to an occurrence that wasn’t able to be processed effectively.
Traumatic events can include ‘capital T’ traumas, such as being involved in a car accident or witnessing a nasty divorce. However in addition to this, all humans also experience hardships that can be difficult to digest – including separation anxiety, changes, or even small frights and fears such as seeing something scary on the news.
These challenges as an educator can be helped with the simple tips outlined below:
1. Emotion coaching
Use emotion coaching techniques to teach and support children to regulate their emotions and build positive relationships.
2. Avoid re-traumatising
Carefully evaluate policies and practices that may re-traumatise or trigger anxiety or aggression in children (such as isolation practices).
Focus on self-care strategies for staff, such as meditation, to help you respond positively to your experiences working with children impacted by adversity or trauma.
4. Focus on strengths
Aim to recognise children’ strengths and help children develop their own learning goals.
(Please note the above information has been adapted from www.getintoneurodiversity.com)
The Parenting By Connection approach offers a number of key ideas that can help early childhood educators and parents to build a more trauma-informed early learning environment. You can read more information about trauma-informed responses to help you connect with children in your classroom here:
Here at Meerilinga, our Parenting team offers various workshops in Perth for both educators and parents covering the Parenting by Connection approach. For more information on trauma informed practice with the children and families you work with, and to enrol in our next Parenting by Connection course, please feel free to contact our Parenting Facilitator, Belynda Smith, at firstname.lastname@example.org