“Don’t you understand how to work with kids from trauma?” my nine-year-old screamed at the bus driver as he exited the doors of the school bus and stepped onto our long driveway. He turned around and continued, “You have to talk to us in a calm voice! My brain has flipped right now, and I’m freaking out!” I scurried to the end of the driveway and stood at the open door of the bus, staring directly into the bus driver’s red face. He was not amused. “Go inside now,” I firmly told our son, and then I apologized to the driver.
Embarrassing, to say the least. But it did prompt me to begin asking the question with therapeutic parenting: “Am I overdoing it?”
We are proud of our kids for using their words and understanding their own trauma background, but we were not happy with the way our son handled the situation on the bus. He was out of his seat while the bus was speeding down rural back roads. The bus driver had asked him multiple times to sit down and explained to him that it was about safety. He was finally angry and yelled at our son to sit down! Our son struggles with impulsively and isn’t great at dealing with frustrating situations. He was using his trauma background as a crutch and his trauma knowledge as a weapon.
Therapeutic parenting has strengthened our children in so many ways. We parent better because we understand the role trauma has played in the development of our children’s brains. But if we are not careful, we can overdo it. When we notice our children using our parenting style as a crutch, we need to reevaluate and approach the situation differently.
We parent better because we understand the role trauma has played in the development of our children’s brains.
Here are some important questions to ask ourselves about our parenting style to see if we need to tweak what we are doing a bit and approach our children differently.
- Is what I’m doing hindering our child?
- Am I supporting or enabling our child?
- Is our child using our parenting style as an excuse for poor behavior?
- Am I using our child’s trauma experience as an excuse?
- Is our child gaining independence because of the approach I’m using?
- Does my approach build our child’s confidence?
The answers to these questions will give you insight into the different avenues you are traveling down when it comes to building healthy attachments with your children and helping others, who may have the task of providing care for our children, up for success.