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October 2018   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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Supporting Trauma-Informed Parenting

Complex trauma describes ongoing experiences through which stress become unmanageable to the point of threatening physical and psychological integrity. Foster and adoptive children and youth often experience multiple cases of trauma throughout their lives, which affects their ability to adjust to a new family and to develop appropriate socio-emotional coping skills. During traumatic stress responses, the verbal and thought processing centers of the brain are overrun in favor of the center of the brain that controls the flight, fight, or freeze response. When a child feels physically threatened, they may attempt to run away, cry and yell, or hold their breath and stop moving. Each of these reactions demonstrates potential behaviors associated with flight, fight, or freeze respectively.

Because chronic stress and accumulated trauma cause lasting consequences, it is important for prospective adoptive parents to understand how their child’s experiences may affect their behavior. A child’s response to trauma depends on a variety of factors, including their developmental stage, their relationship to the perpetrator or victim, and the challenges they face following the traumatic experience. Adoptive parents are able to address ongoing emotional and behavioral issues that result from traumatic experiences by preparation and appropriate parenting intervention. Below, find resources to equip parents to support a child or youth affected by traumatic experiences.


3 Resources About Supporting Trauma-Informed Parenting

Parenting a Child
Who Has
Experienced Trauma

By Child Welfare
Information Gateway

Resources for Parents
and Caregivers

By The National Child Traumatic Stress


Parenting for Brain Development and Prosperity

By Harvard's Center for
the Developing Child


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