Childhood trauma is more common than you think. And when a child has experienced trauma, it can lead to discipline issues. From abuse at home to bullying at school to the loss of a parent due to death or divorce, such events can leave a negative and lasting mark on youth.
Sometimes the child acts out very aggressively, with little understanding or remorse for their behavior toward others. At the same time, they may refuse to accept responsibility for their behavior. This makes discipline especially difficult for adults. On the one hand, they know the child has been through a lot and try to give more leeway. But on the other hand, the troubling behavior simply cannot continue.
Here is some advice for those adults trying to discipline through childhood trauma.
First, ask the youth if they believe they are the only person who has had an experience that was so bad that they constantly keep thinking about it. In other words, no one is the history of the world has ever had such a horrible experience.
After the youth recognizes that throughout history others have also had horrible experiences (particularly childhood trauma), I would ask if they thought such people became life-long victims or if they were able to still live happy lives.
I would then make the point that these people throughout history persevered—they were resilient—in spite of the bad experience. These people made a positive choice rather than a negative, victimhood one.
Finally, explain that If you have negative thoughts, the key to stop feeling badly is to redirect your thinking. For example, if you think of some music you like or think of a nice comment you received, you will have redirected your thinking and the negative feeling will have disappeared. Think of something nicer, and you will feel nice (good).
It may take a few tries to get through to the child, but perseverance and patience will go a long way.
Tip: Childhood trauma does not have to define you.
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