Helping Traumatized Children Learn – Part 2

In the second chapter of “Helping Traumatized Children Learn”, the author discusses resiliency and protective factors.

Three Protective factors

Child-development psychologists Masten and Coatsworth found 3 common factors for why some children develop competence even under adverse conditions, such as exposure to domestic violence, abuse, homelessness and community violence. These three factors common to competent children, whether or not they grow up in favorable circumstances are:

1. a strong parent-child relationship, or, when such a relationship is not available, a surrogate caregiving figure who serves a mentoring role;
2. good cognitive skills, which predict academic success and lead to rule-abiding behavior; and
3. the ability to self-regulate attention, emotions, and behaviors.

These researchers explain that “poverty, chronic stress, domestic violence, natural disasters, and other high-risk contexts for child development may have lasting effects when they damage or impair these crucial adaptive systems.” They also state that encouraging these three key factors can help children be successful. Another paper published by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Complex Trauma Task Force supports these conclusions. Among their proposals is a model called “ARC” for working with traumatized children through both psychological intervention and school and community supports. The three elements of this model are similar to the three factors Masten and Coatsworth outline. Three proposals of the ARC model are:

1. building secure Attachments between child and caregivers(s);
2. enhancing self-Regulatory capacities; and
3. increasing Competencies across multiple domains.

One of the major points of this book is that schools can:

• partner with families and strengthen traumatized children’s relationships with adults in and out of school;
• help children modulate and self-regulate their emotions and behaviors; and
• enable children to develop their academic potential.

Multiple Strategies Needed

The goal of this book is to change the competence of traumatized children by using multiple strategies from tutoring to interventions directed at parent education and school reform. Rather than using just one particular intervention or a one-size-fits-all approach, it offers tools to encourage trauma-sensitive approaches throughout the school community.

One of the main beliefs is that every child has an area of strength in which he or she excels, whether it is in academics, art, music, or sports. When educators can identify and focus on a child’s strength, they give the child the opportunity to experience success, and there are emotional implications of doing something well. This is an important starting point in mastering academic content and social relations, which in turn can serve as a basis for success at school. If you would like to read the entire book it is found online at this link for “Helping Traumatized Children Learn”.

Thanks for reading our blog and click on the following link to learn more about the work of the Center in helping traumatized children.

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