~Peter A. Levine
I read some info about working with traumatized children that seemed good to share for Wellness Wednesday. If you've visited my blog for a while, you know that I am big on not taking people at face value.
Excerpts from The Trauma Informed Teacher – Silent Front Line by Stacey Gagnon:
The goldfish shark is how I best describe my child and last week I shared it with a group incarcerated mothers who “got it” when it comes to trauma. Here’s the story –
I share the picture below. I began talking about how our children often present with behaviors that look like the shark, but if we look below the water, we will realize they are really just scared goldfish trying to have a need met. Their behaviors might communicate anger and hostility, but below the surface is fear and a hurting child. I further explained that it is our job as parents/teachers to stop parenting the shark fin, and look below the surface and meet the needs of the goldfish.
One of the inmates raised her hand and said, “I’m alot like that picture. I act all tough and mean, but I’m really just a scared fish. I wish when I was a kid, someone would have thought to look for the goldfish, instead of just seeing me as a shark”
How to SEE the Goldfish –
* Consider all extreme behavior within the context of survival to better understand ‘why does he keep doing that?’
* Repetition is important because with every positive experience the impact on the brain grows.
* Traumatized children expect the worst and focus on the negative. If you understand this, you will be better prepared for it.
* Childhood neglect is the most damaging trauma. The child must not have basic needs threatened in any way or survival will be all they think about.
(excerpts from Traumatic Experience and the Brain, A Handbook for Understanding and Treating Those Traumatized as Children by Dave Ziegler.)