PTSD is not just for veterans; it can happen to anybody if they have experienced or witnessed a particularly upsetting event. Children are at a higher risk of developing PTSD because they lack the sophisticated coping mechanisms to process certain stimuli.
When people think of sustaining a trauma, many conjure up images of combat, but children are constantly struggling to navigate the world even though they may not be on a battlefield.
Here are some “normal” events in a child’s life that may cause some “abnormal” responses in your younger family members:
5. A DEATH– it could be a grandparent or pet. We are able to accept the reality of death better than a child. The knowledge that they will never have that loved one in their life anymore could be felt way more intensely than you may realize.
4. A DIVORCE– when you think about it, this is a death, too. Their family as they know it is flat-lining.
3. A MOVE– again, another loss. They are losing their school, their friends, their house… Basically, their entire world.
2. An INJURY– While we as parents may be relieved that they “only” broke an arm or that they got better from their hospitalization, they may not feel that way. Getting an X-ray, getting blood drawn, having strangers look at them… all of these experiences could make them feel violated. In addition, TBI (traumatic brain injuries), or concussions, can also be traumatic, as the name implies. If the brain has sustained some impact and the brain is how we process information, it only stands to reason that a developing mind may need some help healing, or that there may be injuries that do not necessarily show up on a standard brain scan at the ER.
1. A DISCIPLINE– It could be a one-time occurrence, or a long-term environment of hostility. Do you find yourself yelling a lot? Doling out consequences for minor incidences? Do you lay your hands on your child? In short, do you find that your child is frequently crying or protesting as a result of your actions? This is a sign they are being traumatized. It’s a different form of PTSD- CPTSD, “C” meaning “Complex.”
Time doe NOT heal all wounds… Sometimes, we need to reach out to professionals to help us. Adults have a difficult enough time with asking for help; children need us to ask FOR them.
My next post in this series will be the Top Five “Normal” Symptoms that may indicate your child may be suffering from a trauma-induced event.
In the meantime, if you are concerned about your child, remember that you can contact their school’s guidance counselor at any time and they can assist you in getting your child the help they may need.
Make it the #153Promise to think about your child’s life from a child’s mind.
I recently attended a fundraising event. It was a local teacher and coach from a neighboring district who told anecdotes from his past 20 years in the classroom and on the field. All ticket sales went to helping local charitable organizations.
Some of his stories were funny; some were heartfelt; some were heartbreaking. But the one that really stayed with me was the one I’ll refer to as, “The Boy with the Red Ink.” I asked him if I could share it on my blog, and he graciously granted permission.
Rick was a new teacher and was getting familiar with the start-of-the-year routines; one of them involved index cards. Before the teachers ever met the students personally, they would get an index card filled with information about each child. The general information was written in black ink, but the really important information was written in red. When presented with the stack of cards for their class, most teachers would first flip through them quickly, hoping to view a black sea of notes. The more red; the more difficult the path that lie head.
When Rick came across one card, he was startled to see a shock of red ink. He noted the name and went onto the rest of his duties of getting ready before his class arrived for the first day of school.
His first interaction with the Boy with the Red Ink and his family was on Back to School night. The student came into the classroom and began picking up items off shelves and leaving havoc in his wake. The father was no different, yet he was yelling at the boy to put everything back where he got it from.
A bit perturbed, Rick asked, “Can I help you?”
“I know you; you’ve got my son in your class.”
“Yes,” replied Rick, “and do you mind putting down my globe?”
That set the tone for the year. But Rick was determined to be a positive influence on the boy. He found reasons to praise the boy. One particular incidence involved an elaborate setup with the office secretary. The plan was for Rick to “lose” his set of keys, whereby the Boy with the Red Ink would save the day. Rick gave the keys to the secretary and instructed her to wait about an hour and then call him over the PA system that the keys had been recovered.
When he announced to his students that his keys were lost, the whole class went into emergency rescue mode, turning over piece of oak tag and workbook, reassuring him that everything would be okay. When the announcement came over the loudspeaker, the class cheered.
Then Rick very dramatically said, “Okay, who can I trust to do the very important job of going to the office to get my keys?”
Immediately, all hands shot up. But then, he added, “I really need to be able to trust this person.” All hands stayed up, with the exception of one hand that slowly retreated. Rick’s heart sank; his plan had backfired. So he improvised:
“Listen, some of you may have made mistakes in the past, but that’s okay. When you came into this class, you had a clean slate.” Kids look confused. “That means a fresh start. So think really hard… who can I trust to get my keys?”
The Boy with the Red Ink slowly brought his hand up with the rest of his classmates’. When Rick called on the boy, all the students — including the boy — looked shocked. But the boy got up and left the classroom.
When he returned five minutes later, Rick bent down, got his keys, smiled and whispered in the boy’s ear, “I knew I could trust you.”
From then on, The Boy with the Red Ink changed. Many times, students like this come around gradually. But with this boy, it was an immediate and dramatic shift from the negative to the positive
One time, Rick decided to call home with a good report. But that same father answered the phone and as soon as he heard it was the boy’s teacher, the dad began cursing and bellowing for the son, using his first, middle and last name. When Rick explained that he was making a happy phone call home, the conversation went flat. But that didn’t stop Rick from working with the boy to keep his self esteem up and continue to improve.
That was in third grade. Once in fourth and fifth grade, Rick’s power to influence the boy lessened.
Four or five years later, Rick was driving in his car and he saw the Boy with the Red Ink run across the street with a bunch of his middle school buddies. The boy called out to Rick, and he stopped his car to get out and talk to the boy. His buddies must have teased him because his demeanor changed by the time Rick approached him.
“Hey! How are you doing?” Rick asked.
“Fine,” the boy replied in a very nonchalant way.
He wanted to say something about the crowd he was running around with. He wanted to ask how his father was doing. How was school? But, sensing the boy’s embarrassment, Rick kept is short. “Well, it was really great seeing you,” was all he said.
“I gotta go.” That was the last thing Rick ever heard the boy say.
A few years later, word got back to Rick that the Boy with the Red Ink had wound up in jail. It broke his heart.
At this point, you may wonder why he told this story to an audience of fellow teachers. His point was not do discourage people from trying. Rather, to realize that sometimes, you can do your very best and wind up doing a great job; Rick did make a difference with the Boy with the Red Ink. But sometimes, it takes more than just one person.
Rick’s message was that if EVERYBODY takes that type of interest in people who desperately need it, maybe we can have a world with a little less red ink.
Of all the anecdotes Rick told that night, this story stuck with me the most.
Make it your #153Promise to keep the cap on the red pen.
I promised the original Facebook poster that I’d put this on my blog to warn other parents about this potential danger:
It took my brain a moment to actually understand what happened in the picture… (It doesn’t take much to get me confused, lol!) Apparently, someone had left the visor down with the mirror exposed. (Some visors have covers for the mirrors; others don’t.) The mirror must have acted like Piggy’s glasses in Lord of the Flies and started a fire!
Thank goodness it happened while they were in the car! But can you imagine what could have happened if this had been in a parking lot while they were out shopping or running errands?!?
I mean, who’d think something like this could happen?
So here are a few suggestions:
get in the habit of checking that all visors are up
make sure no mirrors/lenses or any potential fire starters are left in the car
tape all mirrored visors shut and put a little affirmation saying, “You’re beautiful!”
There are some posts on Facebook that I could easily do without… then there are ones like this that could easily avoid tragedies.
I’m so thankful I saw this picture this morning- and also glad that the poster’s family was not hurt. That image of the scorched upholstery will be burned in my mind for quite a while…
(Yes, I did go there!)
Make it your 153Promise to keep your family safe at all times!
-Perez did NOT sign a form excusing him from such treatment
-At no time did the school say paddle or jail for mom
-The son had hit another student, ran away from teachers, and spit.
-Perez has no medical records to support her claim that her son has extenuating circumstances leading to his absence.
My analysis? This means that her “excuse” that she had her son paddled to avoid jail (which would have been horrible enough!) is not even true. Therefore, we WILLINGLY let her son be hit by school officials… and she uploaded the video on her SM platform.
Now, she’s trying to milk her 15 seconds of fame by possibly seeking out a lawsuit.
I’ll keep checking back and update everyone about this parenting train wreck.
I’m trying to see the silver lining in this story… maybe this much-publicized news event will wake people up to the fact that corporal punishment — which includes spanking! — is NOT a good way to teach discipline to your child.
Make it your #153Promise to never hit — or let others hit (including partners) — your child.
I found this news story on one of my online forms today. It’s about a mother whose five year old son was paddled for spitting.
If I understand the convoluted logic, the woman had previously been arrested for truancy; the child had 18 unexcused absences and 20 tardiness citations. Therefore, in lieu of being suspended (resulting in missing more school and further truancy), the child was administered corporal punishment… which was then posted on social media.
The details vary from site to site, but the mother claims that the child has a condition (not specified) and that this was the only way to avoid getting arrested.
There are so many things wrong with this story, my head is spinning. But I’ll limit myself to my top three:
3. Corporal punishment is NOT effective. Even if a child does not repeat the offense, it’s not because they learned why what they did was wrong. They just learn fear and the lesson that physical violence is a good way to solve problems. The Jasper County Primary School in Covington, Georgia should know better.
2. It’s the mother’s fault it came to this. I realize I may not know the whole story, but if there ARE underlying circumstances why her son didn’t go to school all those times, wouldn’t those be excused absences? The boy spit. At five, he should know better. But a little poking around on Facebook, and the mother has posted several pictures of her and her son flipping the bird. Charming
1.The mother let her child take a beating on the bottom to save her own @$$. She claims that she couldn’t do anything to stop it… Maybe because she was too busy taking a video for her to upload. Did you see those two women with the boy? Have you seen the mother? I think she could take them both on if she had truly cared. This was NOT a mother in Momma Bear mode; this was a woman with priorities bigger than protecting her son. Would I go to jail if it meant I was taking one for the team instead of letting my child be traumatized? You betcha. In an instant.
It will be interesting to see if the media follows up on this train wreck of a news story. But most likely, it will be a blip on the screen and be quickly forgotten among all the rest of the dysfunction out there in the world.
Make it your #153Promise to be a parent of fame; not shame.
Last night, I attended a parenting seminar organized by our school district. The focus was on handling sibling conflict.
As soon as I learned about the event, I knew right away that I wanted to be there- not because my children fight (I’m very happy to say my 10 and 3 year old are very loving to each other!), but because I wanted to see if a prominent expert in the field of parenting and I are on the same page.
I was given a handout upon entering the auditorium outlining some of the speaker’s finer points. Right way, I knew I’d be in for a very affirming evening; THREE of my 4 Verbs of Love were on the sheet!
Psychologist, author, coach and speaker Dr. Laura Markham presented a wealth of information regarding ways to approach your children in a manner that is kind, rather than combative.
I can’t possibly get into all the details on this post, but I must have looked like a bobble head all night because I was nodding my head in agreement almost constantly.
Not only were we on the same page; I took about a page of my own notes — my own Aha! moments, if you will — that I plan to make as future posts, linking back to her site every time.
A former student and I have a big event tonight! To say I’m nervous is an understatement!
I signed up for this gig back in October when I attended our local poetry series and jumped at the chance to be the featured poet this month- both the month that my book is SUPPOSED to be out (was hoping it’d be physically here by now!) AND national poetry month!
So… I plan to have a sign up sheet to capture people’s contact information and make it a contest to get a personally autographed copy of “One Million Kisses,” as soon as it gets back from the printers.
That way, I can blast them all when they are available for purchase.
I’m really wondering how many people will show up… My English department head read last time I attended, and there was a room full of students doing it for extra credit… I invited all my friends and followers on social media, and I know a few former professors of mine plan on attending… No pressure whatsoever, huh?
I plan to be my own inner parent to get me through this… words of encouragement like, “You got this! People want to like you! Trust yourself!”
I’ll be sure to post tomorrow, telling you all how it went.
Make it your #153Promise to be the inner voice to yourself that you want playing in your own children’s head!
The same girl who was having a huge meltdown is sitting on the floor, coloring like a normal kid. Her brother, who was adding to the torment last week, is on his tablet. Her father is still introverted, engrossed on his phone. And my heart is pounding.
She just headed off to dance class, so it’s just the dad and brother. I’m tempted to ask him if he was hear last week… Just a friendly question to start a conversation. See what he says….
(Ten minutes later…)
I did it! I reached out to him and we had a nice conversation. I asked him if he was here last week. At first, he acted like he couldn’t remember. So I explained that his kids look familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it… Was it from the Y? School? Town? We started chatting about what brings us here… my daughter’s gymnastics, etc… He said they come every week. Then his son wanted to go to Starbucks, so we talked about the different flavors… how white chocolate is an oxymoron to me. He laughed. It was nice. They went to get the kid his designer Starbucks beverage.
But then it occurred to me… if he comes here every week, why did he act like he couldn’t recall last week? In my own mind, I concluded that it was due to embarrassment from the display last Saturday.
They came back and we chatted until his daughter came back. We talked about everything under the sun: caffeine addiction; my tinnitus; how our kids got their names… and of course, my book! ; )
I managed to work “One Mllion Kisses” and my 153Promise trauma-free parenting movement into the conversation because he said how he and his wife went out last night. I mentioned how I had plans to see a speaker tonight… It’s a teacher/coach who speaks about his experiences (a future post this week) and I was going for research purposes regarding my promotions strategy. That’s when I saw it happen…
Once I began pitching my vision and mission statements, he almost cried. He said how difficult it is to raise kids, despite the fact that we love them. How the idea of a support group would be great.
His daughter came back from dance; I got my son from the play center; I gave the father my card; and we planned to see each other next week.
So here I am, Monday morning, turning this play-by-play into a post, and I’m filled with a bunch of reactions twisting in my mind:
I’m so glad I approached him with kindness
If my tactic were different, I wonder how he would have reacted
This exchange could give credence to my theory that he’s been abused by her as well
Interesting how the children were fine… not in her presence
I’m encouraged by his reaction to my goals- maybe I can make a difference instead of preaching to the choir
The L.O.V.E. approach works with my target audience, too!
I wonder if he went home and shared our conversation with his wife
Who’s going to be there next week? What will happen?
It just goes to show that you never know what is possible… Make it your #153Promise to be positive, be courageous, and be open to amazing things that can happen… and to see the amazing in the small moments.