Parenting traumatized children requires regulation rather than consequences.
Regulation is what these children missed as babies and toddlers. Healthy children had moments where loving parents picked them up and calmed them. The parent held them when they were angry or distressed. They calmly helped them handle a frustration. Neglected and abused children missed these experiences and they have no ability to calm themselves when distressed.
When we work with children we begin by looking at regulation. The chart attached shows a healthy child that has ups and downs that are in the normal range. The hyperaroused child hovers at the top; close to explosion at any moment.
Children that are traumatized are hyperaroused and waiting for the next dangerous moment to hit. I had a child in therapy that had learned to hide behind a chair or under the bed when the parents started fighting. He knew the next likely thing to happen would be for the children to be hit so he had to be ready for anything. It’s similar to adults walking through a jungle or a snake infested area. We would be on alert, watching for the danger. When the snake appeared we would go sky high and be in terror. That’s the way a child trauma victim lives, so it seem like a little thing takes them from normal to over the top when actually they were never at normal arousal.
In future blogs we will talk about how to help these children whose brains are on continual alert. Detailed information on these topics can be found on the Perry youtube channel.