When children have been exposed to trauma in their birth family or in an orphanage, they may act out and may behave in ways that parents find upsetting and challenging. Trauma occurs when someone hears, witnesses or experiences an event that is life-threatening, violent, unpredictable, and overwhelming. A trauma can be witnessing violence or a crime, or it may take the form of abuse/neglect. Separation from birth parents can also be traumatic. In reality, trauma can be any fearful experience that felt out of control and left the child feeling unsafe, insecure, or even endangered.
When a child is triggered, he/she is reminded of the traumatic event which may bring up strong feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and/or anxiety. Being triggered results in changes the brain, causing the child to “flip his lid” and lose touch with the rational part of the brain that is more in control of reactions and emotions.
Understanding the brain-based reasons behind a child’s extremely challenging behaviors can help parents to be more sensitive, empathetic and attuned to the feelings, needs and reactions of their child. Even with this enlightened knowledge, however, it is sometimes very hard for a parent to remain calm, rational and in their “thinking” brain when their child has gotten on their last nerve, their job is demanding, dinner has to be made, and they are exhausted. When parents feel stressed, unappreciated, and at a loss about to how manage their child’s behavior, it may be really difficult for even “good” parents not to “flip their lids”. This may result in feelings of failure and inadequacy, as well as parenting that is not as effective or supportive as it could be. (Read More)