It's all because of trauma

My answer to big behaviors with "its because of trauma” is Yes and No-

The yes is in reply to understanding that all behaviors often can be understood in light of trauma.  What research has found about children who have experienced early relational trauma is that it results in complex developmental trauma. Sensory systems, cognitive ability, emotional regulation, and social ability (and more) are impacted by early traumatic relationships. I think TBRI is a useful model because it aims at putting children back onto a typical developmental trajectory. When we look at it as a brain that is “delayed”in areas, then it seems for me much easier to address the behavior.  I aim to look at the developmental need behind the behavior rather than just dealing with the presenting behavior.

Consequently, understanding the past helps me to understand why the behaviors are happening in the present in a developmental perspective.  To use a common example, consider a child being accidentally bumped in line.  Typical kiddos likely would be able to navigate the offense and move on.  For your child, being bumped isn’t really the only issue.  It may be that when he was bumped, he didn’t have the skills to move back into a zone of feeling safe- a skill he should have learned in his very early development.  So as a result of complex developmental trauma, the lies grow and adults understandably question the story and his belief that he can’t get help is verified (and the past is repeated).  If we address the need behind the behavior (in this case felt safety), the other behaviors (lying, escalating, distracted in class and difficulties at home) will be minimized. 

My answer is NO to “can’t, won’t and shouldn’t” because of trauma!  Unacceptable behaviors are not accepted when our goal is to help kiddos through their trauma.  A more typical childhood example I give parents is how we address a child who comes to school without breakfast.  Even if they are a star mathematician, they likely can’t attend to their work at star level on that day until the need of eating is met. We wouldn’t punish the behavior of inattentiveness and so we meet the need behind the behavior by providing food and the behavior of not attending to work is minimized. After the need is met, the child can meet goals set at the developmental spot they are in. We can do that see trauma this way as well, and in doing so, teach children learn regulation skills while correcting behaviors compassionately.

Now, that being said, I know when the rubber hits the road in a school of 600 kiddos, or a class of 25 kids (or your home with even a single trauma kiddo) that this is difficult, if not impossible! No way can every issue be looked at from every angle at every moment. I do believe though that we can understand the need behind most behaviors in light of the children’s experienced trauma and a team can create felt safety and healing.  TBRI addresses the need behind the behavior by empowering children, creating safe relationships and correcting behaviors. 

Here is a video which I think does an exceptional job explaining complex developmental trauma.

The Body Keeps Score in your little ones