During the month of February our theme will be Responding to Common Concerns About Trauma-Informed Care. We are going to look at how to answer the most common objections to a trauma-informed treatment approach. The concerns we will be covering are:

If we stop giving severe consequences, chaos will break out.

It’s not the “Real world”, it’s not punishing enough, and it’s too nice.

All this stuff about trauma is just an excuse.

What about consistency?

“My parents were strict with me…”

It will take too much time.

It’s harder to learn.

It demands more of your true self.

Angry teen2This week we will start with the most serious and frightening concern: If we stop giving severe consequences, chaos will break out.

“These kids will run wild, staff and kids will not be safe, we will not be in control.”

The staff who raise this concern have real reasons to be afraid. They have been there during the near riots, they have been hurt, they have seen damage done. What are the assumptions behind this concern?

Is the only or main reason the kids don’t do bad things because of fear of consequences? I don’t believe so. In fact, if they have any effect consequences can make a child more likely to do dangerous things because they increase shame and anxiety.

When a child is emotionally dysregulated does he care about the consequences? Surely if consequence were going to stop hurtful behavior they would have done so by now, as our kids have experienced a lot of consequences.

Having fewer power struggles over inflexible rules creates a calmer, pleasanter environment that leads to fewer wild behaviors. When we are allowed and encouraged to respond with curiosity and from our hearts, we are able to discover what needs the child is trying to meet. We can help them learn ways to meet their needs without hurting others.

If a person does not know how to do something, no amount of consequences will make him do it. He already wants to do better. He feels hopeless about his ability to act differently. When he masters the skills, he will be able to do better.

Relationships have much more power than consequences in influencing behavior. We actually have never had control of our youth. Instead, our relationships give us the possibility of influencing them.

Children do not improve because they are afraid of consequences. They improve when they feel safer, happier, more connected, more seen and more successful.

If you would like a summary of ideas to respond to all the most common staff concerns about trauma-informed care, click here:
Get Ideas Here


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