Teaching the Hurt Child – Relationships Between Trauma, Attachment and Learning
Teaching the Hurt Child is based on the content of a workshop that A Child’s Song has been presenting across the province for many years. The concepts in this manual came from the experiences of our therapists who participate in school-based meetings for children struggling to be successful. The turning point for any school in meeting the needs of a child with early trauma is in the understanding of important concepts related to brain development, trauma, loss and attachment. We know that a child’s early experiences not only impact the way the brain is formed but also shape beliefs about self and others, essentially forming the child’s worldview. When children bring these early experiences into the classroom, their presenting behaviors can be both confusing and frustrating for school professionals. With the foundational information offered in this manual, it is easy to see why the current way of responding and managing these behaviors isn’t working, and that new interventions are essential.
While many of the suggested strategies, particularly the ideas around managing behaviors, may be effective across different populations, the manual was written with a particular demographic in mind. Children who have suffered maltreatment, been exposed to early trauma or chronic stress and those who have lost one or many attachment figures in their little lives were our focus. These children need understanding, patience and a firm commitment to helping them learn and grow to their full potential. Every time an adult comes alongside a child who struggles with feeling safe enough to learn, they have an opportunity to shift that child’s view of self and others. Collectively we need to discover new ways to help children push past their fear and accept the help of a safe adult who will stand beside them until they can stand alone. Shifting the focus of educators from traditional behavior management to establishing emotionally safe learning environments will make it possible for the hurt child to benefit from everything that school has to offer.
Author: Andrea Chatwin
Additional Author: A Child's Song Adoption Supportive Services