Revisiting a Wonderful Resource

Today I stumbled on an "old" resource and was reminded about what great and accessible information it has.  Calmer Classrooms was published in 2007 by the Child Safety Commissioner in Victoria Australia. It is full of excellent and relatively simple suggestions for how teachers can more effectively work with young children who have been affected by trauma.  Suggestions are summarized at the end of the document and include:

  • Understand the child.Understanding trauma and attachment difficulties brings compassion and empathy; understanding that the child may be developmentally younger than their chronological age will guide teaching practices.
  • Manage your own reactions. Working with traumatised children can bring strong emotions; staying calm will help the child to calm themselves.
  • I see you need help with … Help children to comply with requests. Because they don’t necessarily (or aren't able to)* want to please adults, helping them comply will avoid power battles.
  • Structure and Consistency. Traumatised children often have little internal structure and need firm boundaries, rules, expectations and consequences—applied with sensitivity and calm.
  • Time in, not time out.  Traumatised children experience time out as yet more rejection, increasing their feelings of shame and worthlessness; time in keeps them engaged in a relationship.
  • Connect. Dissociative children, who are often quiet and compliant, need gentle and consistent attempts to connect with them.
  • Consequences, not punishment Use natural consequences that relate to the problem behaviour and are designed to repair damaged property or damaged relationships.
  • Structure choices to remain in control Offer choices with humour and creativity to avoid power battles; keep the child responding to you rather than allowing them to control the interaction.
  • Acknowledge good decisions and choices Traumatised children often don’t respond well to praise, but still need positive reinforcement for doing something well: comment on the job well done rather than intrinsic characteristics.
  • Support parents and carers Get to know the parents or carers; keep up good communication and don’t communicate through the child. Try to be understanding and compassionate: living with a child who has trauma and attachment difficulties can be very stressful.
  •  Maintain your role. Don’t be tempted to move too far out of your role. These children need caring and competent teachers.

Many of these concepts are similar to the CAPPD strategy which is any acronym created by the Multiplying Connections Initiative and stands for stay calm,  be attuned, present and predictable and don't let the child's emotions escalate your own"

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