The-Resilient-Child

Report
The Resilient Child
How Trauma Impacts a Child
Nicole Havis, LCSW
Family Therapist
Cook Children’s Medical Center
Do you know this child?
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Parents divorced last year
In a car accident over the summer
Gets bullied due to size
Difficulty concentrating
Seems fatigued
Often complains they are sick or don’t feel
well – frequent visits to the nurse
 Low self esteem
 Grades continue to drop
How about this child?
 Grandfather died last year
 Diagnosed with cancer last month and
going through chemo
 New baby in the home
 Keeping up with homework & excelling in
school
 Good attention span
 Does not let negative comments from peers
bring them down
What is the difference in the two?
RESILIENCY!!
What is resilience?
 The ability to overcome challenges and
bounce back
 The capability to persevere
 The skill of being able to have minimal
impact from the damages of adversity
 Being able to prevent or minimalize the
impact of difficulties in life
A resilient child has…
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Someone that loves them unconditionally
A positive role model that they want to be like
Someone who praises them for being independent
An older friend or family member outside of their home to talk to about
important things, feelings, or problem solving
A reliable family
A belief and confidence that things will be okay
A belief in a higher power
A desire to try new and different things
A willingness to achieve goals and to do well in life
A belief that what they do and who they are makes a difference in how
things will turn out
Good self esteem
The ability to focus and stay on task
A good sense of humor
A desire to make plans and follow through
The ability to do nice things that make others think fondly of them
When do we notice that a child is
resilient?
 When something bad
happens in a child’s
family or personal life
 When a tragedy strikes
the school
 When a child keeps
trying despite setbacks
Why is resilience important?
 Challenges and trauma occur in life – we
encounter some sort of minor obstacle almost
on a daily basis – no one is exempt from
facing some adversity
 We need to be able to face and overcome
struggles in life
 It is important that children and adults are
able to rise above crises in life
 Resilience is the ability to overcome and
triumph
What is traumatic to a child?
 The response to trauma is different for every child
– some are naturally more resilient than others
 What is traumatic to one child may not seem to
phase another child
 Trauma is personal to each individual
 A child may find an event to be traumatic even if
an adult doesn’t
Childhood Trauma
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Car Accident
Death of a Family Member
Failing a test
Death of a Pet
Personal Illness or Surgery
Family Illness
Witnessing Family Violence
Being Physically Abused or
Neglected
Emotional Abuse
Sexual Abuse
Poverty
Fire
Moving
Family Member in Military
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Divorce
Drug Use in the Home
Family Member in Jail
Surgery
Bullying
CPS Removal
Natural Disasters
Mental Illness within the Family
Fleeing home as a refugee or
immigrant
Witnessing Community Violence
Being Held Back in School
Repeated Doctor Appointments
Loss of Family Income
Repeated Trauma
 Some children never experience a true
trauma in their lives, some have one
instance, and some experience trauma on
a very regular basis
 Some children build resiliency to situations
and seem invincible – some seem to fall
under the stress
Symptoms of Trauma in a Child
 Symptoms vary by age, but some are constant
through children and adults:
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Change in sleep or eating habits
Dreams about the event
Easily startled or jumpy
Feeling angry
Having a sense of fear that is irrational
 Symptoms may appear that resemble those
related to trauma, but may be a response to
something else or just a normal part of aging
 Symptoms generally interfere with the child and/or
family’s life
Symptoms of Trauma Birth – Age 2
 Tantrums/crying fits that are not easily soothed that last more
than a few minutes
 Overall sense of agitation, irritability, or aggression
 Pulls away from adults that they used to show trust toward
 Avoids touch or eye contact
 Regression or loss of skills that were previously attained
 Scared of things that were okay before and more easily
startled
 Difficulty separating from their caregiver
 Decreased appetite, weight loss, and/or upset stomach
 Nightmares and/or sleeplessness
 Lethargic or listless
Symptoms of Trauma Age 3-5
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Nightmares and/or difficulty sleeping
Regression – “baby talk” may return or may begin to wet their pants or bed
Poor development of social skills and acting out in public
Very disruptive behaviors (may be expelled from Preschool or Kindergarten)
Tantrums and/or crying fits that are not easily soothed or calmed
Overly bossy with a need for control – may be verbally abusive to adults or peers
Struggles with focus or learning – may begin to be diagnosed with learning disabilities
Low self esteem or confidence in themselves and their abilities
Frequent headaches, stomachaches, etc – frequently sees the nurse or doctor
Overly angry, aggressive, and/or agitated – easily set off
Fearful of being away from their caregiver – very clingy
Often lonely – withdraws from friends and family members
Difficulty trusting others and making friends
Seems to be confused – may have “wild eyes” when stressed
Reenacting the trauma through their play
Follows rules closely – has a fear of punishment
Decreased appetite, weight loss, and/or upset stomach
Fearful of things that remind them of the trauma – places, sounds, people, etc
Avoids touch and/or eye contact
Easily scared
Symptoms of Trauma Age 6-12
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Has suicidal thoughts, plans, and/or attempts
Experiments with drugs and/or alcohol
Has sexual knowledge beyond that is normal for their age
Hoards food
Overreacts
Nightmares and/or difficulty sleeping
Acts out in public
Disruptive at school (may be expelled or suspended)
Overly bossy with a need for control – may be verbally abusive to adults or peers
Low self esteem or confidence in themselves and their abilities
Frequent headaches, stomachaches, etc – frequently sees the nurse or doctor
Overly angry, aggressive, and/or agitated – easily set off
Fearful of being away from their caregiver – very clingy
Often lonely – withdraws from friends and family members
Difficulty trusting others and making friends
Seems to be confused and has trouble focusing
Reenacting the trauma through their play
Decreased appetite, weight loss, and/or upset stomach
Fearful of things that remind them of the trauma – places, sounds, people, etc
Symptoms of Trauma Age 13-18
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Has suicidal thoughts, plans, and/or attempts
Harms self (cutting, etc)
Uses drugs and/or alcohol
Hoards food
Nightmares and/or difficulty sleeping
Acts out in public
Disruptive at school (may be expelled or suspended)
Overly bossy with a need for control – may be verbally abusive to
adults or peers
Low self esteem or confidence in themselves and their abilities
Frequent headaches, stomachaches, etc – frequently sees the nurse
or doctor
Overly angry, aggressive, and/or agitated – easily set off
Often lonely – withdraws from friends and family members
Difficulty trusting others and making friends
Seems to be confused and has trouble focusing
Decreased appetite, weight loss, and/or upset stomach – or
overeats
Fearful of things that remind them of the trauma – places, sounds,
people, etc
Symptoms of Trauma Age 13-18
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Romantic relationships that are inappropriate or unhealthy
Engaging in risky behaviors
Sexual promiscuity
Hanging out with people who are not good for them
Overly reliant on themselves
Runaways
Hostile behaviors
Panic attacks or flashbacks
Shame about the trauma
Defiant and starts fights
Alienated and difficulty relating to others
Does not see a future for themselves
Lack of ambition
Learning a Child’s Story
 Sometimes an event happens to the whole school and
everyone is aware that a trauma has occurred – an act
of violence, natural disaster, death of a student and/or
staff member
 Sometimes a child’s family member may update you
on what is occurring in the child’s life
 Sometimes a child may confide in you about a trauma
that is happening or that has happened in the past
 In other instances you may notices the symptoms of
trauma present in the child and not learn about the
actual incident until much later
 You may also never be aware of trauma that has
occurred to a child
Responding to Trauma
 Listen patiently and let the child know that
you believe what they are telling you
 Ensure the child knows that you don’t think
poorly of them because of what has occurred
 Don’t minimize their response
 Validate the child’s feelings
 Let the child know you support them and that
they are safe
 Refer the child for additional counseling if you
feel it is warranted
Why are some children more
resilient than others?
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Genetics
Family dynamics
Life experiences
Education about resilience in past
Why wait until something bad
happens to teach resiliency?
 Would you accept a job as a teacher or a
nurse with no education or experience and
simply learn the skills after the fact?
 Would you go to a surgeon who had never
been to medical school and was planning to
figure things out along the way?
 Resilience should be promoted in children
before a traumatic or challenging situation
occurs so that they have necessary skills in
place to handle things
Sources of Resiliency
 Resiliency can be innate, but it can also be
taught or promoted
 Some skills may seem obvious or easy,
but not be a given for every child
 According to The International Resilience
Project, resilience comes from features in
a child labeled as “I Have,” “I Am,” and “I
Can.”
I Have
 These are external supports and
resources in the child’s life
 Before a child can develop internal means
of resilience, they relay on outside sources
I Have
 The resilient child has:
• People in their life whom they trust – they love the
child unconditionally
• People who set limits and boundaries so they will
know how to avoid danger
• People who will assist them if they are in trouble,
sick, or in need of help/guidance
• People who want them to learn to be independent
and self-sufficient as able
• People who will guide them and lead by a positive
example
I Am
 These are a child’s personal strengths that
are internal
 Incorporates beliefs, attitudes, and
feelings
I Am
 The resilient child:
• Is likeable and loveable
• One who likes to do good and nice things for
others to show that they care
• Take responsibility for their actions
• Is sure that everything will be okay
• Has respect for both themselves and others
I Can
 These factors incorporate social and
interpersonal skills
 These skills are learned by interacting with
others and from those who teach them
I Can
 The resilient child:
• Talks to others when they feel scared or bothered
by something
• Problem solves on their own
• Finds help when needed
• Determines when it is a good time to stop and
talk with someone or to take action
• Has self control when they feel like doing
something that isn’t right or that could be harmful
Sources of Resiliency
 A child may not have all three sources – I
have, I am, and I can, but they need more
than one – resiliency comes from a
combination of these traits.
 A child with good self-esteem (I am) who is
unable to solve problems (I can) and has no
one to turn to (I have) will not be resilient.
 A loved child (I have) who lacks self
confidence (I am) or the ability to trust others
(I can) will lack resiliency.
Talking about Resiliency
 Teach a vocabulary or resiliency – talk about
the traits you see in them that are part of the I
have, I am, and I can.
 Some children simply don’t realize they have
these things in place and need them to be
identified.
 Use “feeling” words and use yourself as an
example - It’s okay to say that you feel sad or
scared, but include how you overcome this
How can you promote resiliency
at home or in the classroom?
 Skills can be taught to all ages
 Younger children rely more on the “I have”
and later switch to “I can” – it is a
continually process of learning the “I am”
 Actively refer to resilient skills
 Build up the child
 Talk through situations as they occur
Children - Age 0-3
 At this age, children are learning about
trust and autonomy
 They rely on others to provide for their
basic physical and emotional needs
 They learn to self-soothe and to have
control over their body
Children - Age 0-3
 When a child at this age makes a mistake,
they either learn from it or feel shame
 Through mistakes the child learns to trust
themselves and also others
 If the child is not allowed to make mistakes
or is overly criticized, they will begin to
doubt themselves and/or their abilities –
they also might feel shameful
Teaching Resilience, Age 0-3
 Provide unconditional love and support
 Enforce age appropriate rules and limits
 Model good behavior that is optimistic and
confident
 Give praise for accomplishments
 Offer encouragement when the child attempts
things on their own
 Help the child to identify and label their
feelings
 Begin education about trying situations
Teaching Resilience, Age 0-3
 Give them safe areas to explore their
freedom
 Offer an explanation with rules and
discipline
 Give comfort and encouragement when
you see that the child is stressed
 Provide stability and a routine, but also
expose the child to new and different
things
Age 0-3 -- Example
 An infant is laying on their back crying loudly
and flailing. There is no indication of what is
wrong, but the baby will not calm down.
 Resilience is promoted when:
• You pick the baby up and soothe while checking
for a cause of distress.
 Resilience is not promoted when:
• You tell the baby to stop crying, change the
diaper, and walk away
Age 0-3 -- Example
 You are at the store with a two-year-old. She
grabs a candy bar, opens it, and takes a bite.
You try to take it away and she yells, “No!”
 Resilience is promoted when:
• You quietly remove her from the situation and
explain the rules. Offer a positive alternative
behavior.
 Resilience is not promoted when:
• She is allowed to finish the candy, if you hit her,
or loudly scold her in public.
The Resilient Child - Age 3
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Feels safe and secure with their parents
Feels loved and is proud of themselves
Knows their needs will be met
Feels safe exploring and trying new things
Knows about rules and consequences
Has a day-to-day routine
Likes to learn new things
Uses words to express their feelings
Has self-control
Children - Age 4-7
 At this age, children are learning about initiative
and usually stay very active
 Imaginative play is big and the child sometimes
cannot separate fantasy from reality
 The child wants to be helpful, but might have
difficulty staying on task
Children - Age 4-7
 Children at this age ask and endless
amount of questions and are very
inquisitive
 While the questions are sometimes tiring,
it is important to be respectful
 If their thoughts and questions are
dismissed or ignored, they may feel
unable to take initiative or guilty/unworthy.
Teaching Resilience, Age 4-7
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Provide unconditional love and support
Verbally express love and praise
Use a hug or calm voice to soothe a child
Teach a child how to calm themself down
Be a good role model
Have set rules and consequences
Encourage independence and autonomy
Teaching Resilience, Age 4-7
 Continue to teach about feelings in
themselves and in others
 Gradually teach the child to adverse
situations
 Encourage empathy and kindness
 Teach communication skills
 Model and teach how to problem solve
 Teach about taking responsibility for their
actions and what this means
 Give encouragement in stressful situations
Age 4-7 -- Example
 A single mother has to move to another city for her
job. She has to leave her daughter with a family
member temporarily while she saves up for
daycare.
 Resilience is promoted when:
• The mother explains to her daughter why she is
moving and what the job can provide. She tells the
child she loves her and that she will be safe with the
family member. A plan is made to communicate and
visit.
 Resilience is not promoted when:
• You shame the child for crying when you leave and do
not explain things or offer any details about where she
will be and for how long.
Age 4-7 -- Example
 A seven year old boy is in the yard with his
father. His father gets into an argument with
the neighbor who stabs him.
 Resilience is promoted when:
• If the boy feels he can help his father and tries to
comfort him. When the boy knows how to seek
help and does so.
 Resilience is not promoted when:
• If the boy cries and takes no action to assist and
is later scolded for doing so.
The Resilient Child – Age 7
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Proud of their accomplishments
Takes initiative
Problem solves on their own
Feels confidence when they are faced with a
struggle
Understands the relationship of actions and
consequences
Takes responsibility for their actions
Able to better communicate
Feels safe and loved
Has good self-esteem
Children - Age 8-11
 The child is learning to be
more productive and is
mastering skills
 Success and achievements
are desired
 Friendships and acceptance
by peers are important
 Able to follow through with
things
Children - Age 8-11
 When the child does not find success, they
will feel inferior. They may become
sensitive and start to question their
abilities.
 If a peer, teacher, or caregiver makes the
child feel that they are not capable they
will buy into this and question their selfworth and be insecure.
Teaching Resilience, Age 8-11
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Provide unconditional love and support
Verbally express love and praise
Set limits and offer verbal reminders
Model good behavior
Offer explanations about rules and
expectations as needed
 Praise accomplishments and good behavior
 Allow them to solve their own problems
 Encourage and model good communication
Teaching Resilience, Age 8-11
 Balance autonomy with help as needed
 Follow a consequence/punishment with love
and empathy
 Communicate about new expectations as the
child grows up
 Encourage the child to accept responsibility
without making them feel shameful
 Model flexibility
Age 8-11 -- Example
 An eleven-year-old girl was babysitting her
three year old brother when the house caught
on fire. She tried to put out the fire and
couldn’t. She tried to save her brother, but
couldn’t reach him and he died. She was
able to escape.
 Resilience is promoted when:
• Share grief with the family. Remind the girl that
she is loved and that you know she tried to save
the house and her brother.
 Resilience is not promoted when:
• The girl is blamed for the fire and not saving her
brother.
Age 8-11 -- Example
 A nine-year-old boy left home even when he
was told not to. The father didn’t know the
boy left until is was very late and he
discovered the boy was not there.
 Resilience is promoted when:
• Have a conversation with the boy when he
returns home to ask why he did this.
Communicate this was not okay and that
consequence. Make a plan for the future.
 Resilience is not promoted when:
• You yell at or spank the boy when he comes
home. If you accuse him of being bad and make
him feel guilty.
The Resilient Child – Age 11
 Is flexible
 Knows when to do things on their own and
when to ask for help
 Has confidence
 Takes initiative and completes activities
 Able to solve problems
 Has good self-esteem
 Takes responsibility
 Recognizes feelings in self and others
 Recovers from adversities
 Has empathy and is kind
Overall Checklist of Resiliency
 The child:
• Has someone that loves and supports them
unconditionally
• Has a trusted adult to talk to
• Receives praise for being autonomous
• Can count on family/friends/teachers to be there if
they need them
• Has a good role model
• Thinks everything will be okay in the end
• Does kind things for others
Overall Checklist of Resiliency
 The child:
• Believes in a higher power
• Is not afraid to try new things
• Likes to set goals and do what it takes to
accomplish them
• Feels like they matter
• Has good self-esteem
• Can focus on something and follow through
• Has a sense of humor
Teaching Strategies
 Talk about adversities that people might
face – problem solve what to do when they
happen
 Ask children to use examples from their
life and how they responded
Teaching Strategies
 Use the word resilience
and talk about what it
means – identify these
traits when you see
them in a child or in
class
 Teach the class the
“vocabulary of
resilience” – encourage
them to identify this
when seen in class
Teaching Strategies
 Discuss the “I have,” “I am,” and “I can.”
Make lists of what the child has that falls in
each category.
 Help children identify who is there to
support them. Ensure they know they can
come to you. When they do come – listen
and be supportive.
 Discuss other resources that might be
available.
Teaching Strategies
 Present a possible adverse situation and ask
these questions for a single child or group to
discuss:
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What would you do?
How would you feel if this happened?
What resilience factors could be used?
How do you think the situation ends?
 Don’t be afraid to use a personal example
and how you responded to model good
resiliency skills.
Teaching Strategies
 Be resilient and be a role model. Don’t
pretend that you don’t have problems. Model
how to deal with adversity and changes.
 Don’t try to protect children from problems,
changes, or difficulties. Instead, teach them
how to cope.
 Teach how to problem solve.
 Help to identify emotions
 Model communication skills and teach how to
do this
Teaching Strategies
 Offer choices and support decisions
 Teach and model empathy and kindness
 Give opportunities to try new things – be
supportive
 Believe in children and convey this to
them.
Overview of Trauma and
Resilience
 Don’t be afraid to talk about a situation when
something bad happens
 Use yourself as an example
 Don’t feel the need to hide your emotions
 Remember that it is okay to talk about
feelings
 Be supportive
 Remember that you might not know a child’s
whole story
Remind Children…
"You have everything you need to be
successful – and you can do it.“
--Roger Mills
Questions?
[email protected]

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