By Rebecca Honig, director of content
Trauma Must Be Buffered
Yesterday when I went to drop my seven-year-old son off at school, he expressed that he was unable to go. “I can’t go to school,” he told me. “How can I learn when I know that so much bad stuff can happen?” He lost his grandmother on Mother’s Day last month. But his list of bad things that could happen extended far beyond the death of a loved one.
“How can I learn when I know that so much bad stuff can happen?”
When I probed into “the bad things” he was referring to, he explained, “Well the pandemic, and your friends can get crushes on you and then they run away from you instead of just being your friend. And ticks — ticks are everywhere. And someone you love can just die.”
A singular traumatic event had uprooted his whole sense of security, throwing everything into question. It was, and still is, affecting his sleep, his moods, his behaviors and his learning.
Protective Factors to Bounce Back
I ended up keeping him home. He spent the day snuggling, talking, walking the dog, and planting flowers. At the end of the day, he shared, “I’m really excited to go to school tomorrow. I remembered about all my protectors.”
“Tell me about them,” I said. “Well, you and daddy are my protectors and my sisters are my protectors and my friends like Mikey and Fionn-with-an-O. And also making up poems and tap dancing and books, too. And my good dream pillow and the backyard…”
“I’m really excited to go to school tomorrow. I remember about all my protectors.”
Although this might seem like a random list, he was naming all the things that make him feel secure and loved. Ways he expresses his feelings, rituals that bring him a sense of normalcy, even as things around him are challenging and unpredictable. Without knowing it, he was naming HIS Protective Factors. All those things that were already in place to help him buffer the effects of a trauma.
Strengthening Families Protective Factors
Though he’s only seven, my son was actually capturing all the things we have worked to build into our Ready4K Trauma Informed program, which is aligned with The Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework and specifically designed to help parents and caregivers buffer the effects of trauma on their young children. The Trauma Informed Program does this by helping children build resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development and their connection to local resources and supports to help them thrive, no matter what may come their way.
Much like my seven year old pointed out, having these things in place is critical to navigating trauma.
Ready4K Trauma-Informed Program
As you engage in the essential and impactful work of supporting families through loss, change, injustice and trauma we invite you to reach out by commenting below, or by emailing directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to learn about the programs and resources you are finding most impactful during these challenging times.
And here are a few ways to learn more about the Ready4K Trauma Informed program:
This 2-page snapshot gives you a quick introduction to the Ready4K Trauma-Informed program.
Have 7 minutes? Watch this overview video of our Trauma-Informed program.
This blog post, Trauma-Informed Survey Results, shares a rundown into parent/caregiver experiences with the program. It takes just a few minutes to read.
If you want more details, watch this webinar to learn about how the program was developed and ways you can bring a Trauma-Informed lens to your work with families.
You can also read Case Study: A Safety Net and a Springboard, which is deep dive into the Community Support Stream, a key component of Ready4K Trauma-Informed. The Community Support Stream connects families with critical local resources and supports.