Thursday, February 22, 2018

How To Begin Bonding With A Traumatized Toddler

The first months and years of a child's life are critical for building the foundations on which they which they will construct relationships for the remainder of their lives.

When you bring a toddler into your home he may have experienced Prenatal Trauma and will have almost certainly experienced trauma in one form or another during the first months and years of his life. If he hasn't, being removed from the people whom he loves, can easily cause trauma. Trauma is an experience so overwhelming that the brain cannot process what is happening, leaving the individual to suffer from triggers until such a time as he can process the experience. 

Many people erroneously assume that a child who is neglected, abused or has experienced a chaotic home life, will be thankful to be removed from the people who caused, or failed to prevent his suffering. A child depends on those who have neglected/abused him to provide for his basic needs. On one hand he loves/needs these people, on the other hand they hurt him. Imagine how confusing this must be!

If you have adopted or are thinking of adopting a toddler, I highly recommend the book, Toddler Adoption, The Weaver's Craft. In the meantime, here are some things you can do:

- Parent your toddler as you would an infant. You cannot spoil a traumatized toddler by going the extra mile to make sure his need's are met. At this time it is better to err on the side of too much nurture, something that is nearly impossible to do at this stage, rather than thinking, "But what if I spoil him?"

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs, show's that as humans, we have a basic level of need's. For various reason's many foster/adopted children have missed several of these steps. In order for a child to mature into a an emotionally, stable individual, he will have to experience each level, in order. This means that when a toddler comes into your home it is vital that you start at the base of the pyramid, then move onto the next level's. I want to note that the second level, that of safety, must include Felt Safety.

- Many toddler's are independent beyond their years due to their need to care for themselves. Sometimes as in our son's case, they also cared for younger siblings. Our son was incredibly independent. He became very upset when we tried to help him with something, so we parented him as one would a well attached toddler; we left him take care of himself. In hindsight that was the not at all what he needed.

- Toddler's who are placed in care or adopted often experience intense rages and meltdowns as the attempt to navigate their new world while trying to make sense of what has happened. Per our caseworker's advice, we put our son in time out. One minute for each year of age. Unknown to us we were only exacerbating his Alarm Of Separation. After we learned about TBRI we began practicing Time In versus time out, with much better result's.

In simple word's NURTURE that child. 
DO: love and nurture him, let him be a baby. Let him have things to soothe him be it a blanket, toy or Nuk.

DON'T: Try to make him act his age. He may be a toddler physically, but deep inside he is still just a baby.

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