Creating A Trauma-Informed Classroom: Discipline and Boundaries | Amy Marschall, Psy.D. | Skillshare

Creating A Trauma-Informed Classroom: Discipline and Boundaries

Amy Marschall, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

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1 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Trauma Informed Classroom Discipline and Boundaries


About This Class

Learning to incorporate trauma-informed teaching into your classroom, specifically related to discipline and setting boundaries with kids.


1. Trauma Informed Classroom Discipline and Boundaries: My name is Dr Amy Martial, then I'm a clinical psychologist whose practice focuses on child and adolescent psychology . I'm also certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and trained in early childhood trauma and the effect on development. I'm here today to talk to you about child trauma, informed teaching and how this can take place in the classroom and how it applies to discipline and boundaries with Children. This is an important topic because a lot of Children do. You have these traumatic experiences, and it affects their ability to learn as well as their behavior in the classroom. If teachers are better trauma informed and able to meet these Children's needs, not only will the Children do better academically, but they will also learn the skills to regulate better and just get along better with everyone else and create fewer disciplinary problems for the teacher. So let's get started. I have a power point presentation to go along with this election. So here we are creating a trauma informed classroom discipline and boundaries. What is trauma informed? Teaching trauma? Informed teaching is a teaching style and methods that are catered to the possibility that Children in the classroom have experienced trauma. It focuses on meeting their unique needs related to that trauma, approaching them away in a way that takes that trauma into consideration and generally being sensitive and focused on teaching rather than punishing when it comes to discipline. This article, how and why Trauma informed teaching has this quote. Working with trauma effective students is a difficult balancing act. We acknowledge the harmful impacts of the past and hold out hope for a future of healing. We create a safe environment for students to share their lives, yet maintain professional boundaries. Part of what this means is a lot of people here trauma, informed, teaching trauma, informed care and they think, OK, so your classroom is just going to be complete chaos. There's no boundaries. Kids can do whatever they want. If we can't punish them, how can we discipline them? And that's just not the way that it goes. The focus is on using discipline as a teaching tool rather than just a way to punish its Let's find out what's causing this behavior, get to the underlying problem and solve that so that the behavior is no longer needed. This picture on the right here. He's not giving me a hard time. He's having a hard time. I think is absolutely paramount because it reminds us that it's not about the child being quote unquote bad just to make you angry just to make your day more difficult. It's about the fact that the child themselves are struggling, are needing something, and it's about finding out what it is that they need, because we find once we meet that need, the behavior goes away because the need is no longer there. I also like to point out, and I'll say this again later on in this presentation. But I don't believe there is any such thing as a quote unquote bad kid. There are kids who are making bad choices. There are kids who are having bad days, but there are no Children who are inherently bad. And this is something that's very important to remember when you're with these kids all day , every day, because it's not about punishing them for quote unquote being bad. It's about giving them the tools to make better choices so that they don't need to be. They don't feel like they need to make those choices I think that sometimes teachers can accidentally slip into the mindset that a child is bad or this child is the problem or creates the problems and then you can run into, For example, anything that child does becomes the center of your radar. I've heard of teachers who continue to have problems with the same kid over and over, and then there might be three kids acting out in a specific way. But only that child gets focused on because the teacher is now looking for it. So changing the language in your mind will help you avoid falling into those kinds of patterns and traps. Because I would imagine if you're watching this. You don't hate Children. You don't think kids air bad. You want to give them the best learning experience possible, and this can prevent you from accidentally falling into that. Oh, that person is or that child is batter has a problem. Um, you may have noticed that some point in your life when you have trouble getting along with someone, you can reach a point with them where they could be doing anything. They could be eating crackers, and you'd be thinking, Oh, look at them over there, eating those crackers and just feeling angry just from that. So this kind of shift in thinking keeps you from accidentally falling into that pattern with your students. So trauma informed teaching is based in part off of the adverse childhood experiences study , otherwise known as the Aces Study. Aces are major traumatic experiences, and they specifically refer to things such as living in a home where domestic violence occurs, experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Uh, having a primary caregiver pass away having a primary caregiver be unstable due to addiction, substance abuse, mental illness. It's was determined by the Aces study that one in three Children experiences at least one adverse child experience. Childhood experience, which I think is important to remember as teachers because it can be easy to think. Well, no one in my class has trauma well, most likely, statistically speaking, there are Children in your class who have experienced trauma, and like I said, the aces air only the major traumas. They don't factor in what's considered to be smaller traumas, such as being in a car accident. Ah, having a major invasive medical procedure that can be traumatic. So And if you think about it, everyone has an experience that is the worst thing that's ever happened to them. And for each of us, that's based on our own unique perception. The worst day of my life objectively could be better or worse than the worst day of somebody else's life. But that doesn't change the fact that it's the worst thing that ever happened to me. So these approaches can benefit most kids. And also there is research to suggest that trauma has a lot of different effects on kids. Some kids with trauma history actually get misdiagnosed with things like a D H. D. Because the trauma causes them to be unable to focus, causes them to be restless, causes them to be impulsive. There's also a tendency after you've experienced trauma, to be in a state of hypervigilance, where you're always looking for the next dangerous thing, which leads to that fight or flight response. And if you have a child who's always getting angry, always having a meltdown over every little thing, that could be them reacting with that fight or flight response, because if you think about it, a fight response is basically turning fear into anger. So changing your mindset, this is important to remember kind of what I was saying earlier. Reframing the behavior Kids will do well if they can. So, looking at it, are you thinking this child won't or this child can't they? They are being. If you think yourself there being lazy, they're refusing there, being defiant. Then you're setting yourself up for a power struggle with the child versus they can't because maybe they're stressed out. Maybe they don't have the skills to do this, finding what's keeping them from behaving in the appropriate way. What's keeping them from learning? Because Children at the heart do want to please you. They do want to do a good job, but if they feel like no matter how hard I try, I can't make it. There's a learned helplessness. They stopped trying. They stop seeking your approval. They start seeking that negative attention. So finding and reducing stress, finding the unmet needs, finding the social skills issues in teaching them. This, when it comes to discipline, means that we want to correct behaviour versus punishing behavior, teaching them what the better option is, teaching them how to express their feelings in a way that's appropriate. And this then makes it about teaching them, makes it about growing them into effective human beings instead of just controlling their behavior, telling them you will act this way because I said so. There are a lot of people who I've interacted with in my career who talk about, you know, when I was a child, I never would have acted that way because my parents would have they basically tell me their parents would have assaulted them and I would pose a question to you. Would you rather Children behave based on what they're capable of with their motion regulation, so that you can find what those deficits are and help them to fix those deficits? Or would you rather the Children be so terrified of you that they can't act out because they're just so scared all the time? I personally would rather kids occasionally act out around me because they trust me toe, love them to care about them, to teach them better, instead of being caught up in this fear that I'm going to hurt them in some way that I'm going to punish them, that they need to please me out of fear rather than that positive relationship. So trauma informed discipline. Like I said, we're looking at correcting the behavior rather than punishing and controlling the behavior . We're looking at redirecting to more positive choices rather than shaming a child. So if you see a child doing something that's not appropriate, instead of calling them out in front of the entire class and saying, Hey, don't do that and saying to the other kids don't act like this child. You redirect them to a more positive choice. Use opportunities when kids act out when kids have meltdowns, it's a It's a teachable moment. It's an opportunity to teach them coping skills and self regulation. Like I said, there are no bad kids. They're just kids who are having a hard time. So this tweet over here that I have included talks about things to maybe avoid as far as discipline. A lot of teachers have trouble with not taking away recess as a punishment, and I would argue that you should not take away recess as a punishment because that time to get that energy out and not just get that energy out, but that time to socialize. That brain break where the child gets to play is completely invaluable. Playtime for Children is just as essential as any kind of self care for adults. My comparison would be this. If I stole food because I was starving, it wouldn't be a helpful punishment to say, Okay, you don't get to eat for the next three days. That's not going to solve the problem. That's actually going to make the problem worse, because I'm going to be even hungrier when that child needs that outlet. When you punish them by taking the outlet away, they just end up needing it, even mawr and acting up even more later on. So I would argue you want to find something other than missing recess as that discipline find out, Like I said, finding a consequence that will fit. That's fits with the behavior that makes sense in the context of the behavior but doesn't take away something that's a basic need. Similar silent lunch kids, in addition to learning math and reading, are learning social skills, so that's another opportunity for them to learn to talk with each other. I have heard of teachers who will make the last safe five minutes of lunch silent just because some kids get so caught up in talking to their friends that they realize they haven't eaten anything. So we go with the last five minutes. That way, people can realise the kids can realize and say, Oh, okay, I'd better eat now, Um, something that could be very helpful in the classroom is about every hour to hour and 1/2. Give everyone five minutes stretch break. This is great for kids who have trauma. This is great for kids who are anxious who have 80 HD who are on the autism spectrum. And oftentimes we will recommend stretch breaks or walk around breaks for those kids in particular. But not only can most kids benefit from these kinds of breaks, but having the whole class do it together takes the focus off of those Children, and it's not Johnny gets a stretch break. Otherwise he makes a problem. It's it's time for everybody's stretch break, Um, and then taking students misbehavior personally is it's difficult not to take it personally . They're acting out in front of you about you. Kids can say some very, very hurtful things, but it's rarely about you. And actually, I have pointed out to a lot of parents that if a child is willing to show you their misbehavior side to an extent, that does show that they trust you enough to see them at their worst. So just remember, it's not about you. It's about something else inside of them. And when you can get past that for yourself, that can help you empathize with them, come up alongside them and help them to be better. So what does trauma informed discipline look like? First, when you're talking to Children, keep your voice calm. Keep your volume low, because if you start to get angry, they'll feed off of your anger. You'll feed back off of their anger. It becomes a cycle, and it escalates. You are also in that moment modeling for them how to keep your emotions regulated. You're showing them this is what calm looks like. You're also showing them. This is This is the goal for you, but you're also showing them that you are the adult in that situation, help them draw attention to or notice their emotions and behaviors, but without causing shame to them instead of look at what you're doing that that's so bad. Say, wow, it looks like you're very angry or you seem to be a having a hard time control in your body . So what can we do to fix that? What do you need? What do we need? Um, and then when you remain calm, that will bring their effective level back down. Focus also on the behaviour rather than the child. This again keeps you from a shaming them because it's very easy for kids to get in their head. I'm the bad kid. I'm the kid with the problem. And like I said, there are no bad kids. So you, as the adult as their teacher, need to communicate to them. It's not that you're bad, but that behavior is not acceptable. So, for example, child is yelling, screaming, calling names, cursing. We need to use kind words, please, or focusing on if they're doing a behavior that might be destructive, destructive, reminding them. If that gets broken, we won't be able to use it anymore. Draws their attention to the specific behavior, reminds them of the consequence, and then again, your calm demeanor can. They will feed off of that they will feed off of whatever your demeanor is. So if you remain calm, that will help them come down instead of you going to their level of anger, anxiety, fear, whatever again, don't use shame. Discipline is a teaching opportunity this can look like talking to kids about. Okay, what kind of consequences appropriate for this behavior or explaining, You know, the toy is broken now. It can't be played with anymore and then looking at not necessarily that everything needs to be a punishment. But what might help you get back in control of your body right now or if it is something that needs to be talked about, we will talk more about this in a little bit once you've calmed down. Now, this is also an opportunity for you as the teacher to be proactive when the Children are not acting out. It can be good to incorporate some breathing activities, some stretching, maybe a couple of yoga poses, and they can practice them well, there calm. And when they're having a meltdown, you can cue them to Hey, maybe maybe some of your stretches would help you right now. Um and then similarly, using redirection rather than a punishment with these kids. So instead of, for example, a time out, which is very shaming and again communicates you've done bad. Or, as the child often takes it, you are bad, giving them a sensory break or a time away or taking space rather than you are in time out as a punishment. But you are. You're taking a minute to get yourself back in control and then also avoid singling a child out in front of their peers to avoid shaming them. Because this actually can contribute to bullying. Kids will pick up if you weather out louder in your mind, have labelled a child as the problem. Other kids will pick up on that. Other kids will not want to befriend that child. Then they'll fall behind Socially. It's another hit to their self esteem, feeling like nobody likes them, which again feeds into that helpless cycle of No matter what I do, I'm going to be bad, so I might as well just save us all some time and lean into it. So the discipline mantra calm. Remain calm because the child will respond to your demeanor a tune or listen to the child's perspective. Children need to feel heard, even if they're not necessarily right, and letting them talk through it and process it can help them realize in what ways they might need to think through their behavior in what ways they might not be right. Let them know what to expect, because routine will decrease anxiety and then manage your own emotions so similar to remaining calm, they'll pick up on your calm. And also again. You are the adult in this interaction. So if the child says something hateful, it's not our place to say something hateful back. It's our place to stay calm, and it's our place to teach them better for the future. So when you are working with a child who has had a meltdown or a tantrum or a rough day, you want to regulate, you want to model good self regulation by showing them what that looks like by regulating yourself again. If you're radiating calm, they will calm down faster. They will pick up on that a lot of adults who don't realize that often times when Children are acting out, we kind of act out right back to them and then We're surprised that that's how they learn to handle their problems. So next relate. You want to communicate that you want to hear their side of the story again. Even if you know, beyond any shadow of a doubt that this child is wrong, let them tell their side of this story. Listen, remain neutral. Let them finish before correcting before going into anything else. So let them say their piece. Let them feel heard. Tell them that you're listening. Empathize with them. And if they are calm enough to get to step three reason, then you talk through and problem solved. If they're not ready, you let them take a break, and then you come back to it. What would have been a better choice? What would be a good consequence right now? Um, also including, I know that you feel like you're not in the wrong here. This specific behaviour is still unacceptable. Um, even if another child is involved, their discipline, their consequences separate. We're talking about what you could have done differently. So the advantages of trauma informed discipline. I feel like I've covered this as we've been going, but basically, when you teach kids and When you use these moments as teaching moments rather than punishing moments, it can help them learn to self regulate and can avoid them having the exact same behavior in the future. It teaches them coping skills. It teaches them how to regulate it, teaches them how to communicate their feelings. It also avoids a power struggle between you and the child because it's not you coming down on them as I am the authority and you will obey me, which for a lot of kids, especially kids with that trauma history, that's just going to kick them into feeling out of control, feeling like they need to get that control back, which leads to them acting out more, which leads to defiance, which leads to opposition ality. So if you're coming alongside them in this way, there is no power struggle because you have not given them the opportunity to defy you to start that power struggle. It will improve your relationship with the students as their teacher because they're not going to be afraid of you. They're not going to feel like you don't like them, Um, and it helps you to remember that kids are not trying to be that are not trying to hurt you are not just out despite you, so it makes you feel better about your relationship with them, as well as making their them feel better about their relationship with you. It also improves relationships between the kids because there aren't bad kids who are targeted and the alienated. And then kids start to teach each other these kinds of skills. They teach each other these social skills. And it's not that one child or a couple of Children are scapegoats for the rest of the kids . It teaches them to be better. It teaches them to grow as people rather than just punishing bad behaviour and hoping that it goes away. So now it's your turn. You get to decide and create what trauma informed discipline will look like in your classroom. What I want you to do after watching this lecture is put together a plan for how you will address problem behaviors. Consistent expectations are huge for all kids, but especially kids with trauma history. They need to know clearly and consistently what is expected. What is acceptable, inappropriate, what is not acceptable and not appropriate? What consequences will you use to set boundaries, not punishments, but natural consequences that fit and flow with. If you do this, then this happens to help them learn and avoiding those. Like I said, punishment also using this type of language that I've been talking about when correcting behaviors, not telling a child you are you are bad or you are naughty also, um, one that comes up often and again from a very well intentioned place. Is teachers talking to kids saying there's a good Johnny and a bad Johnny? No, no, just there is Johnny, and sometimes he has a hard time. Sometimes he makes bad choices, and we still care about him and want him to be better. And we know that he can be better. And we're here to help him because that's saying there's a good Johnny and bad Johnny is still sending him the message that he's bad, Johnny. So I want you with a friend or colleague to role play. Some of these scenarios got come up with a scenario that you've actually experienced in your classroom and role play how you would respond to different behaviors, model that self regulation, have the person your role playing with get really into it and get worked up and maybe even be yelling or crying if they're able to do that. And you can model staying calm while you're watching that and talking about consequences, talking about choices without shaming them. So I hope that this was a helpful presentation. Let me know what other kinds of topics would be helpful to you in the classroom. I'm hoping to make more of a series of trauma, informed teaching and how to help kids be their best Selves. Thanks for watching.