Is your child scared of school shootings, tornadoes, climate change, and on and on? Do you want to learn how to help them not get stuck in these fears? Join us as we talk with Dr. Melissa Goldberg Mintz is a clinical psychologist based in Houston, Texas. She is the author of the book, "Has Your Child Been Traumatized: How to Know and What to Do to Promote Healing and Recovery."
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Dawn Davenport 0:00
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about foster adoptive and kinship care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am the host of this show, as well as the director of the nonprofit, creating a family.org. Today we're going to be talking about how to help your child cope with living in what feels like a very scary world right now. We will be talking with Dr. Melissa Goldberg Mintz. She is a clinical psychologist based in Houston, Texas. She is the author of the book has your child been traumatized, how to know and what to do to promote healing and recovery. This book was an Amazon number one bestseller in new releases in mental health, and a foreign indies winner for the 2022 Book of the Year awards. So I want everybody to remember to also stay tuned to to the very end, because we're going to give you some tips, try to summarize with some practical tips. Well welcome Dr. Mintz to Creating a Family. We are so happy to have you and congrats on the book and all the awards.
Speaker 2 1:05
Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here and talk about this important topic.
Dawn Davenport 1:09
It is an important topic, it feels an important topic now, you know, the world feels scary. We have a large Facebook support group. And we posted on there asking people what their kids are afraid of. There are so many things, I'll read a couple of them. My two youngest, which are 12 and 15, are most afraid of severe weather events and home invasions. We buffer them as much as we can regarding the news, not just those stories, but others, but they still worry about them. Here's another my 15 year old is afraid of violence in schools, not just shootings. But certainly those two, she also fears being confronted about her race or other differences and not knowing what to say or do. We practice scripts and give her space and permission to shut them down however she needs to. But she still feels that hypervigilance someone else said their child was afraid of global warming and worries about that. Someone came back and said their eight year old was afraid of death, which I think is fairly common fear, but also climate change, natural disasters, war house fires, school shootings, online predators, kidnappers and just violence in general. And you know, then we throw in COVID, you know, that has not helped. And so we know of a lot of kids who are afraid when they get sick, that this is going to be something big, bigger. You kids get sick all the time, of course, school shootings that was mentioned, but also police shootings. That is frightening. And now we've heard of kids who are very afraid to go outside because of the smoke and the wildfires, you know, afraid to breathe, afraid to exercise afraid to do you know, I don't know if the world is actually scarier now. But maybe it's just the news coverage, but it sure feels that way. Do you see this as well?
Speaker 2 3:04
I absolutely see this. And I'll add not just in the kids that I'm seeing. But in parents too.
Dawn Davenport 3:10
It's a valid point.
Speaker 2 3:13
Yes. And I'll add as a parent myself, there are times when I feel frightened. But yeah, I think an important thing to distinguish is that one word like it feels frightening, rather than it is for certain frightening.
Dawn Davenport 3:28
Yeah, yeah. And I think we're gonna come back to talking about that. Because I do think there is a distinction there. But the challenge, of course, is how do we get our kids to see that, you know, kids are struggling, I was looking up and it was rather depressing. Actually, the stats on pediatric mental health, pediatric mental health hospitalizations have increased and intensified. More than eight in 10. Public schools have seen stunted behavioral and social emotional development in their students since the onset of COVID, 19. Since the pandemic, another stat that seems terribly worrisome, it's at 57% of teen girls, and 29% of teen boys report feeling persistently sad or hopeless. And this is over the last year. You know, those those statistics are really worrisome. Absolutely. Yeah. Do you see them as well? Yeah,
Speaker 2 4:19
I see them as well. And, you know, I mainly work in outpatient care, but what I know is that myself and the sort of a network of people, other therapists that I refer to starting at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was full, you know, we just filled up with long wait lists, and it was so hard to even find providers to provide families that were calling in, because there was such a mental health crisis.
Dawn Davenport 4:49
Do you think that children are actually more fearful now than in the past? Or are we just more aware of it?
Speaker 2 4:57
You know, that's a tough question, I would say It's a combination of both. So I'm certainly seeing a huge increase in anxiety in our children. And at the same time, kids have been exposed to a lot of things that are just new and novel. So starting with the corona virus pandemic, I mean, that had a huge impact on kids, every family responded differently with different levels of restriction to fit their own needs. And at the same time, there were so many kids that did not have exposure to social situations to school, at critical periods of development, and that did have impacts on their social skills. One thing that I'm seeing a lot more of, is not just impaired social skills, but more increased social anxiety. I think you even mentioned this earlier, one parent riding in with a kid not knowing what to say, and being anxious of what if I'm confronted with this situation or that situation?
Speaker 2 5:58
Almost out of practice, right? Absolutely. Yeah. Some of those muscles atrophied a bit.
Dawn Davenport 6:04
Yeah. And it's not like there weren't things in the past that were frightening and bad. I mean, 911 da. I mean, that was certainly, but even if, you know, historically, the Cold War, I know that's going back aways, but that probably in the 60s, where we see the pictures of, you know, kids of swatting under their desk as if that would help a nuclear bomb, but still, you know, doing that. So it we certainly had, the fear was it were certainly bad things that happened in the past. And I can't help but wonder if kids didn't just suffer some in silence, because there was a, you know, more of the attitude of Oh, Buck up, you know, or something along those lines. And now we're more attuned to it. I'm not sure. Maybe it's the constant news stream that they say, or our social media or whatever. I'm not sure. I think
Unknown Speaker 6:53
Dawn Davenport 6:54
those things to all of the above. Yes. All right. Many of our children, kids who are being raised by the parents in our audience have experienced trauma before. But it feels like more kids are being shaken by current events. But I do want to talk about is there a distinction between I've heard it big trauma and little trauma of trauma with a big T or trauma with a little T. I don't know that that's a particularly helpful distinction. But we know that if kids who have been abused or had seen domestic violence, or had been separated from their parents, or even just the act of adoption, being torn from their historical roots, and things like that, some of our kids have had significant childhood trauma, some have not. Some have had, you know, they were removed early, and it was not necessarily significant. But other kids have had other traumas in their lives. Is there a distinction between those different types of trauma? Or is trauma trauma?
Speaker 2 7:53
And good question. Good question. So the way that I think about it, I classify what most people think of as trauma, whether big to your little t as adverse events, so things that happen that have the potential to traumatize. So two kids, two different kids could experience of very similar adverse event and one might go on to be traumatized, while the other is just fine.
Dawn Davenport 8:20
That's so true. And how do you as a parent know when an event happens, be it you know, news about COVID, although fortunately, that's seems to be in the past, but you know, a school shooting that's across the country from you, how do you know if your child is going to be significantly impacted or just mildly impacted? Sure. So
Speaker 2 8:43
I would say you don't necessarily know ahead of time or even day of or even the week after, you don't know. But I like to do what's called watchful waiting. So you know, take, if you've got two kids that experienced the same stressor, just watch them closely, give them a little extra TLC and look for sustained changes from baseline. So say you've got a kid who was a great sleeper, who now is like fighting bedtime, maybe they're afraid of having nightmares or something like that, or just having a hard time falling asleep. And that persist for weeks on end. That would be a red flag to me, that would be something that's concerning to me. Now, if you had a kid who had long standing sleep issues, and those are continuing that wouldn't be as much of a red flag for trauma. But you know, same thing with appetite or with being social or wanting to spend time with friends or someone who loved school who now is trying to avoid school. So all of these things. What I keep in mind is do we see changes from baseline behavior?
Dawn Davenport 9:45
Alright, so let's go through some of the symptoms and you do this in the book. Has your child been traumatized? Let's go through some of the symptoms of trauma and how they vary by age because I think that would be more helpful. So let's break up The Ages to preschool, school aged and adolescence. So what are some of the signs of trauma that you see in preschool aged kids?
Speaker 2 10:09
Sure. So what I see that's different from other age groups is increased separation anxiety, I'll also see a lot more behavioral regression, which means just sort of reverting back to an earlier way of functioning. So say you've got, you know, a young child, but one who's been toilet trained for a while, who now starts having accidents, or starts talking in a baby voice that they grew out of a couple of years ago, or, you know, now all of a sudden needs to sleep in bed with you instead of sleeping in their own room. So those sorts of things.
Dawn Davenport 10:44
And we also see behavioral changes externalized, behavioral changes, more tantrums, or crying, more resistance, more opposition? Would you also potentially see more compliant behavior, more submissive type behavior? Would that also be potentially assigned?
Speaker 2 11:02
Yeah, I think all of those that really runs the gamut. And again, it can feel so overwhelming and complex to think like, well, this could be assigned. But same with its opposite. And so what I tell parents is really just look for a change from baseline. If you had a kid that was super compliant, before being compliant after the fact is not super concerning. But if you had a kid who was more of a firecracker, who, you know, did things their own way, and didn't like to listen to rules and limits are who now all of a sudden is just really trying to please you, I would be very curious about that.
Dawn Davenport 11:36
Okay. All right. So those are some of the symptoms of trauma for preschool aged kids. What about school aged kids? I would imagine you would see some of the same but but also some different ones. So what, what are the signs of trauma for school aged kids?
Speaker 2 11:49
Yeah, so we'll also see more school avoidance, and sometimes it also shows up as somatic complaints. So you know, stomachache, headache, those sorts of things. And then sort of what we've already talked about. So changes in appetite changes with sleep, changes in wanting to be social or not social, isolating themselves, trying to avoid people, places, things or situations, sleep problems, all of these things are things we see with school aged kids. And what about adolescence? Sure, so everything we've already talked about with an addition of risky impulsive behaviors we will sometimes see with adolescents. So whether that's drug and alcohol related, whether that's high risk sex, what we know is that adolescents experiment with all of these things. One way that I think about it that might be helpful for our listeners is are they experimenting with sex, you know, like, maybe initiating sex with a boyfriend as a teenager? That's not super concerning. To me, what is concerning? Is a teen who has, you know, multiple different sexual partners at the same time, who's not using protection? Or who really struggles with assertiveness, so speaking up and saying no, when they're not comfortable with a particular sexual act, okay. And
Dawn Davenport 13:08
quite frankly, a lot of times parents are not going to know, they might be suspicious of are worried about, but they may not. The nature of adolescents is not to share their sexual experience with their parents. Yeah, right. Absolutely. Right. But as you said, notice changes and you can notice the changes and have some idea. Sure, absolutely. Do you know that we have 12 free courses that can help you be the best parent to your kid possible. Thanks to our partners, that jockey being Family Foundation, you can go to Bitly slash JP F support, and choose from our library of 12 horses, many of them will go up tailed really nicely with the show this podcast, go to Bitly, slash j, b, f support, that's bi T dot L, y slash J. B F support. So we talked about this a little bit before, but it does seem like some kids take all the troubling world events in stride while others struggle. So I'm wondering, why do some kids seem to bounce back quickly from troubling events that happen to them directly or, or happen in the world? Maybe what I'm really asking is what makes a kid resilient? Is is that how we would define resilience kids that can handle what you call adverse events, and take them in stride? Is that the definition of resilience?
Speaker 2 14:31
Yeah, I think it's certainly related. One way that I like to think about it is in terms of risk factors and protective factors. So a risk factor being something that's more likely to have this adverse event lead to trauma and a protective factor, just the opposite. Something that when an adverse event happens is more likely to protect the kid from experiencing trauma after the fact.
Dawn Davenport 14:56
So what are some risk factors and protective factors?
Speaker 2 14:59
So One that's really important is one that you already mentioned on this podcast, and that is prior trauma. So that's a big one, a big risk factor. So if a kid has been traumatized in the past, another big knock from life has more of the potential to traumatize again.
Dawn Davenport 15:20
Yeah, that's a big one. Mm hmm.
Speaker 2 15:23
Yeah. So other risk factors? Gosh, there's so many but family history of mental illness, family history of substance abuse?
Dawn Davenport 15:32
Well, prenatal exposure, I would throw that one in, you know, a fair number of our kids have been prenatally exposed to alcohol or drugs. Yeah, I would wonder to do you notice things in parenting styles. That would be either a risk factor or a protective factor for children, and how they might respond, or how they might take some of this troubling adverse events that are happening around this in stride?
Speaker 2 16:00
Absolutely, yes. Oh, I can't emphasize that enough. So the parents coping skills. So what are they modeling when they're stressed? You know, we talked about climate change, for example. So let's say the news is on and they're talking about the latest natural disaster, does parent get super worked up and irritated by that which by the way, would be normal? This is all feels so terrifying. So I don't want to pathologize the parents that have big reactions to that because it's normal? Yes, yes. And at the same time, if your kid sees you freaking out about something, they're going to be more likely to freak out. If instead, they see that when you get really freaked out, you can take some deep breaths and talk about your feelings, not push them down, by the way, because that's not healthy either. But talk about them and do different things to cope, your child is more likely to see and imitate that. So there's this phrase in my field, we do what we know. And I love that phrase, because I think that when a child sees a parent coping in a way that's really adaptive, they're going to imitate those same strategies. But instead, if a child sees a parent turned to alcohol, when they're feeling stressed out, they're going to be more likely to do that. So I think it can be a risk factor. And it can also be a protective factor. The how a parent copes.
Dawn Davenport 17:25
Sure, yeah, absolutely. What about temperament? I'm the mother of four through both birth and adoption, and, and my kids are so different, all four of them. And I can't help but think that our kids come to us with a certain abilities and just certain things preset, anyway. What about temperament?
Speaker 2 17:48
Absolutely, yes. Yeah. So that's a great way of phrasing it. I think parents are always surprised. You know, we've got our like, first time parents who think they have a handle on
Dawn Davenport 17:58
nothing is more humbling than having a second child.
Speaker 2 18:01
Yes, yes. From professional experience and personal experience. I know that Yeah. Yes, that is so true. So what we know is that some kids, you know, are born, their temperament is a bit more easygoing, and they're not fazed by changes. And if you get them off their routine a little bit, it doesn't faze them too much. And other kids can be really fussy and really sensitive to small changes. And what we know is that sort of they are how they are and there's not one temperament that's better than another and they're so
Dawn Davenport 18:38
good. That's so true. I think we want to say that one is better, but the world needs all types. Yeah, yes. I'm so glad you said that.
Speaker 2 18:48
Oh, 100%. Because we need people who are sensitive to things, our alarm bells, they're going to let us know when something's off. Yep. So all are necessary. And what we know is that kids who are a little more sensitive might be a little more vulnerable to the development of trauma.
Dawn Davenport 19:06
Yeah, and to not getting over it. And some kids are more have a tendency to be more fixated, where they get something in their mind. And that's what they ruminate over. And again, that's, that can be caused by a number of things, but I do think it's temperament has an impact there as well. Well, honestly, what I think most parents the top question they have, we know that things are happening and that our kids are aware of it. troubling things are happening, our kids are aware of it. But what the top question on most parents mind is, will my kid be okay? Will this child who I love so much will this kid be okay? So what do you say I'm sure parents come to you and say okay, my child is struggling, you know, with color. Every time they hear anything about climate warming, or they are, you know, their favorite channel is the Weather Channel and that's all they want to watch and They, you know, they're terrified, or whatever the event is or afraid to go to school for fear of they've heard about bullying or they have been bullied. So what do you tell when parents say Will my kid be okay?
Speaker 2 20:13
Oh, my goodness. So I love when parents ask these questions. And you know, we don't have a way of knowing 100%. But what I've seen in terms of risk and protective factors is the number one protective factor is having a loving, attuned parent who cares. And parents who ask those questions, by and large, are those parents who are loving and attuned to care. So I love just being able to tell parents who ask those questions that they are part of the single greatest protective factor
Dawn Davenport 20:45
that you can do a lot. Yeah, it's tempting. When we see our kids struggling, they're regressing, let's say in behavior, or they're, they have a tummy ache, can't go to school, or whatever we're seeing, we're seeing behaviors change from the baseline behaviors. And so we know our child is likely struggling, it's tempting to be lenient, not enforce rules, because we know that they need a little more TLC. So we well, well, they don't have to, they don't have to pick up they don't have to, you know, we can scoop bedtime or whatever, is that the best approach?
Speaker 2 21:17
You know, I will say it's complicated, I'm not gonna say that there's something wrong with that. And I'm also not gonna say that it's the best approach either. So I think every situation is so different. And gosh, I think that if your kid is having a really hard time, and they really want to sleep in your bed for and I am never going to tell a parent, like, you know, say no and hold the boundary. I mean, I think the risk of letting a kid sleep in your bed after they've been traumatized, is, it's gonna be hard to get them out, potentially. So that is the risk. But there's also something to be gained there. And it's a sense of comfort. So I'm not going to say that that is the wrong approach. No, because I totally get it. And I think it's coming from such a lovely place of wanting to give your kid comfort, and it is going to give your kid comfort, and maybe it'll help them sleep better, too. And it runs the risk of, you know, not wanting to go back to their room.
Dawn Davenport 22:12
For that particular example, I can share from my experience, that it is easier for the parent to sleep on an air mattress in the floor in the kid's room, because it is much easier for the parent to choose to leave. Rather than trying to get the child out of your bed when they have been in the bed for a while. They've reestablished the habit of sleeping with you or established that habit. Just a free little tip from somebody who's learned the hard way. Love that, yeah, that you can accomplish both, but make it a little bit easier. I want to send a warm thank you to our listeners that are returning this week. And of course, I want to welcome our new listeners. Did you know that your recommendations for this podcast to your friends is one of the best ways to help us get the word out about what creating a family.org does as well as about this podcast. So please spread the word far and wide to anyone who you think would benefit whether they're directly in the foster adoption or kinship care community, or whether they're adjacent to it through caring for our loving a family. That is it seems to me that helping our kids feel competent in general. And I don't know if this is universally seen. But I have seen personally, anecdotally, that when my kids felt competent, that they were less fearful. First of all, do you see that as well? I don't know, that could just be my kids.
Speaker 2 23:45
No, it is not just your kids. That is something that is universally true. I think we can think of that as another protective factor when kids feel competent. Like they're good at things and control confident that's a huge protective factor.
Dawn Davenport 24:00
So what are some life skills that parents can teach that will help their children be more, be more resilient and able to cope with these scary adverse events that are happening, both outside of their world, you know, maybe across the country or even across the ocean, but also those that are happening closer to home, you know, things that are happening within their schools and within their actual life?
Speaker 2 24:25
Sure, so jumping off the most recent thing we talked about, I think our parents can help encourage mastery and a sense of competence in their kids. I mean, I think it's great for kids to try new things and get out of their comfort zone 100% And we can talk about that too. But I also love for parents to encourage kids to pursue things that they both enjoy and are good at because I think when we do things that we feel like oh, hey, like I'm enjoying this and I'm good at it. It can make us feel competent. So some of that you know, and also in this same vein, having parents model trying maybe some things that are new that they aren't necessarily good at so kids can see, because what we said earlier is kids do what they know. So having parents model that having parents model when they need help, saying, you know, whether it's like, oh, gosh, I think I might need to find a therapist or like, oh, I had the greatest talk with your aunt today. I've been feeling so stressed or worried about XYZ and just modeling like, when we have feelings, we talk about them. And that's something that's helpful for us.
Dawn Davenport 25:33
So talking about our feelings, knowing that all feelings are okay. Yes. Oh, actions may not be okay. But right. Yeah. All feelings are okay. Yes. Yeah. So modeling that behavior modeling, maybe I would think also the, you know, I am stressed, oh, I, I heard, if, if your child is already knows about the school shooting, let's say, you know, I need to do something physical, I need to, or I need to get out of, I don't need to just sit here and be thinking about it, I need to go for a run or let's go jump on the trampoline, or you jump on the trampoline, and I'll jump rope beside you or whatever, you know, showing modeling that that physical activity can help our brain activity.
Speaker 2 26:18
Absolutely. Yes, yes. I love that.
Dawn Davenport 26:22
So how do we know if our kid is stuck? I mean, all kids, if they hear about a school shooting it is, of course, or a tornado, or whatever wildfire smoke, or the Ukrainian war or whatever. being cognizant of that, particularly for our older kids, it's part of being human and part of being a world citizen being aware of and not myopic. On the other hand, we don't want our kids get stuck. So how do we know if our kid is stuck? And not moving past their fear? Hmm,
Speaker 2 26:55
sure. I mean, there's so many different things we can use to measure this. The first one that pops in mind for me is avoidance, which is a cornerstone symptom of post traumatic stress. So avoiding people places, things, situations, experiences that might remind them of the scary thing that happened. We've brought up school shootings a few times. So school avoidance, and you know, even it's not just trying, you know, skipping school every single day, but it could look like being worried about going to school every single day and trying to fight going to school every single day could indicate that something is still on their mind. So avoiding or with the younger ones really just trying to avoid people, places, things, situations, conversations. So conversations being like I don't want to talk about it situations. So maybe not wanting to go hang out with their friends at the mall, because they're worried about shooting or some community violence breaking out. They're not wanting to go to a certain restaurant, you know, maybe because a friend got food poisoning there once and being really anxious about getting food poisoning. Now, that's not necessarily something we consider a trauma. But when we're just talking about being stuck in general,
Dawn Davenport 28:12
right, yeah. It is an adverse event. And for a particular child, it could be traumatizing.
Speaker 2 28:17
Sure. Yeah. I mean, even with the food poisoning example, let's say their friend got sick and had to go to the hospital. That certainly has the potential to traumatize if your child was there hearing about that, learning about that or witnessing that that has the potential to traumatize. Yeah.
Dawn Davenport 28:31
You mentioned post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. At what point is a child's behavior moved into PTSD? What is PTSD, I suppose, and how does it differ from just the more typical reactions to scary events? And can you have PTSD, when it hasn't happened to you?
Speaker 2 28:52
So yes, I'll take that last question first. So yes, I'd say especially for very young children, when something happens to a parent that sometimes even has a greater probability to traumatize than something scary happening to themselves, if they don't have the, you know, they don't understand what's happening, but they do know being separated from a parent is something that can be really terrifying. So yes, also, if you witness something, an adverse event happening to somebody else, and it's really terrifying or disgusting or frightening, or if you learn about it happening to somebody, particularly somebody loved that you feel really close to those who have a possibility of leading to trauma and even post traumatic stress disorder,
Dawn Davenport 29:34
PTSD, what is it? Sure, sure.
Speaker 2 29:37
So the way that I think about PTSD is that adverse events they happen. What we know is that the majority of kids in our country experience at least one adverse event before hitting their 18th birthday, which is kind of shocking and scary to think about. And what we know is that a good chunk of these kids they experienced the adverse event And then you know, a few weeks after they're sort of back to their normal baseline functioning. On the other hand, that's not always the case. So what we see with other kids is sometimes that there's big impairment even a month, two months after what happened, and is interfering with their day to day life. So it's interfering with family relationships with friendships with school. And so what I would say PTSD is, is if we don't have that natural recovery, and this adverse event that happened is still weighing heavy on them and interfering with these different aspects of their life. And they've got the symptoms we've been talking about the avoidance re experiencing, which is, you know, includes nightmares and things like that, gosh, negative thoughts and feelings about themselves other people in the world, then we might be curious about PTSD.
Dawn Davenport 30:54
I want to tell you about a resource that is available through creating a family.org. It is our interactive training support curriculum for foster adoptive and kinship families. This came about because, first of all, peer to peer support is so important. And we knew that and we wanted to do anything we could to promote that. But also peer to peer support. These type of groups are also one of the best ways to train our enhanced skills for parents. So we created a curriculum, there are 25 curriculum in our library, each one on a topic, directly relevant to parenting, especially parenting foster adoptive and Kid kids. One particularly favorite of books and favorite in general, but it's a favorite of mine. It's about ACEs adverse childhood experiences, it's talked about in this show, it is just a terrific curriculum. It's interactive, it's participatory, there's a video, there's a facilitator guide, there's a handout, there's a certificate of attendance, if you need it, there's additional resource sheets. In other words, everything you need to run a high quality training or support group is right there, all you do is take it off the digital shelf. So check it out, at creating a family.org, hover over the word training, and click on Support Group curriculum. So we've talked about how to know and our kids are stuck, how to know if they have even moved into what could be post traumatic stress disorder. So what types of therapy are available? And how can parents decide which one would be best?
Speaker 2 32:33
Oh, my goodness, yes, it can feel so overwhelming. Yes, it
Dawn Davenport 32:37
can? Yes, it does.
Speaker 2 32:40
Yeah, so I would say probably the easiest jumping off point for parents is to talk to their kids pediatrician or their kids school counselor. And my rationale for that is they've seen it all. Maybe not the exact adverse event that your child has experienced. But given how prevalent adverse events are, they see it on a daily basis. And they're going to be super familiar with the therapist in your area that specialize in the treatment of trauma. So school counselor and pediatrician could be a great way to jump into that. But in terms of treatment approaches, gosh, there are so many different ones out there for traumatized children, the gold standard is considered to be trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, or TF CBT. So that is a wonderful treatment approach that has a ton of research behind it supporting it. You can also look on their website for providers in your area that are certified TF CBT providers. So that could be another way.
Dawn Davenport 33:41
When you say their website, you made the website for trauma informed cognitive behavioral therapy. Yeah, yes. Gotcha. Is that really what you should be looking for? For very young children? Can play therapy be a part of trauma and for Dr. Greger
Speaker 2 33:57
there's yeah, there's also separate play therapy and then for young kids, maybe age two to seven ish, if we're seeing a lot of behavioral issues. So a lot of you know, whining and talking back and things like that, whether it's minor misbehavior, or major misbehavior, if that's sort of like the primary way that things are presenting PCIT or parent child interaction therapy could be indicated. That is also a wonderful approach that has a lot of evidence behind it.
Dawn Davenport 34:26
So for any of these therapy, certainly in the last one parents are involved just by the name, but for therapies with young children. Should parents expect to be involved?
Speaker 2 34:38
Yes, absolutely. Yes. So with PCIT in particular, the way the model works, it's really cool. So if you're doing it, you can do it in person or virtually but in person how it works is a therapist is going to be teaching a parent skills. And then the parent is going to go into the room with a kid where there's a one way mirror where the therapist can watch and there's like a little bug in the ear device. For the parent, and so the therapist is giving the parent like real time feedback on skill implementation. So not only is there a parent involvement, but oh my goodness, yeah, it is.
Dawn Davenport 35:12
The parent is is the one doing but what about the first one you mentioned?
Speaker 2 35:16
Yes, trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy. So yes, parents are very involved in that, you know, there are ways to adapt it if there's not a parent that's available or reliable, but the treatment works very well. The way it's typically structured is that there are corresponding parent appointments that go along with the therapist child appointment. So potentially even every session, the therapist is meeting with the parents for skills acquisition, and also just to talk about how the kid is doing in therapy. So they're learning skills like selective attention and praise to respond to minor misbehavior that can sometimes increase after trauma.
Dawn Davenport 35:57
Okay, so parents would literally call up therapist and say, how do you treat a child who is experiencing trauma? Do you have trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy? Is that something that you are trained in? Do you ask specific questions such as that?
Speaker 2 36:15
Sure. So what I would encourage parents to ask is, what ages are you comfortable treating because some therapists are, you know, especially for those younger kids, some therapists really just work with six enough, even if their child therapist so that might be a question I emphasize asking first. And then also just saying, you know, the type of adverse event that the kid experienced, you know, do you have experience working with XYZ? Because, you know, what we know is that the way we treat trauma, in some ways is the same, but also different adverse events require slightly different approaches. So if the adverse event your child experiences related to grief and loss, that's something I'd want to make sure that the therapist is comfortable with. So even with trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy, there is this sort of, like, add on for grief and loss, and maybe they haven't been trained in that or they're not familiar with that. So I would emphasize age and then adverse event type when reaching out to therapists.
Dawn Davenport 37:17
Okay. That's practical. That's helpful to know, because oftentimes, it's hard to know. Where do we even begin? You know, sure, yeah. All right. So now we're coming to the tips. What can parents do to help when their child is struggling with coping with all the scary things in our world? So let's, let's give some tips. I'll repeat one that you said at the very beginning, which is watchful waiting. Let's say you know that your child was around when the news was talking about a tornado wiping out someplace in Oklahoma. And even though you live on the east coast, where tornadoes are not coming, you are suspenseful that? Well, you know, first of all, you just know your child saw and heard the news. So what's his watchful waiting look alike?
Speaker 2 38:01
Sure, sure. Well, I Yes. So that, and also, I want to talk a little bit about being mindful about media consumption, but watchful waiting, would be, you know, just monitoring your child. So looking for those changes in baseline. And if something really scary happens, I wouldn't necessarily be alarmed if that night, they don't want to sleep in their room or that night, they're, you know, having a tantrum, what I would be more concerned about is if these changes persist over time, you know, weeks turn into months, and this is something that they're still really concerned about. So that's what watchful waiting looks like. And then another tip is, don't always just have the news in the background. You know, it's nice to have some background noise. And of course, you want to stay informed. And what we know is that not all kids, but some kids can have a big reaction to this and that it can drive their anxiety.
Dawn Davenport 38:57
You know, it is hard sometimes even if you are saying I'm going to be aware and I'm going to protect my child I, I have a personal example where we didn't have the TV on at all, and this child was probably four or five, probably about five so there wasn't reading material. There wasn't anything but somehow I'm sure that you know in the morning when she came down, if we were watching the news, we turned it off or whatever, but she was aware we were taking a plane ride and all of a sudden during takeoff she started screaming we're gonna crash or we're gonna crash screaming I will add so that everyone heard her Yeah, they were getting nervous. I couldn't figure out what was I was like what and because she had flown before many times, and then she said the plane is gonna roll over the planes gonna roll over. And there had been in the news like a month or two before a plane crash and it had been on the you know, the real repeat repeat, you know, where it showed the picture of The plane rolling. And I was totally unaware that she had seen that, and had not seen changes in behavior had not been getting on a plane, certainly because it had been months, it had been so far. And I thought, okay, we need to take a look at what we're doing. We think she's not being exposed. But clearly, this kid had picked up and she's, you know, very astute in that way. And we just started assessing where she could have seen that, and we had to really change our behaviors of when we were going to be looking at the news. So anyway, news exposure. But you know, the other thing is that, especially as our kids get older, I'm a big believer in not getting kids on social media until as long as you can postpone it, but at some point, our kids are on social media, and they're going to be aware our teens, let's say, Yeah, or the their families who prohibited all together. But nonetheless. So what do you do for the viewer? Teens? You really, it's probably not even appropriate for you to say, Nope, don't watch the news. Nope. Don't read the paper. You know, that type of thing. So what to do for older kids?
Speaker 2 41:05
Sure. Absolutely. With older kids, yeah. 100% they know about it? And honestly, they probably know about it before you do. Yes.
Dawn Davenport 41:15
Yes. You're correct. And no more details.
Speaker 2 41:19
Yes. Yep. Absolutely. And, you know, this is from social media. And also, you know, even if you prohibited social media, which is not necessarily something I recommend, they're gonna be hearing about it from their peers at school.
Dawn Davenport 41:32
Yeah. And they're gonna sneak an account, and they're going to access it when they go spend the night with a friend or just go to the library or, or their phone, you know, or borrow a friend's phone if you block it on there. So anyway,
Speaker 2 41:42
absolutely, absolutely. 100%. So they're going to know about it. And so one tip, there could be, you know, school shooting, for example, asking them like, well, what have you heard about this shooting, and wherever, and making the space for them to share with you what they heard, and any feelings that they have about it. So just having this space to express your feelings can be so helpful. So that can be a huge thing you do for the big kids who are getting exposure, whether you like it or not.
Dawn Davenport 42:16
Yeah, exactly. Here is a shout out to a long time supporter of this podcast, as well as to the mission of creating a family.org and that is hopscotch adoptions. So shout out to hopscotch. Thank you so much. Hopscotch, adoptions is a Hague accredited international adoption agency, placing kiddos from I'd love to say these names, it's fun for me, Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Ghana, Guiana, Morocco, Pakistan, Serbia, and Ukraine. They specialize in the placement of kids with Down syndrome, as well as other special needs. But they also do a lot of kinship adoptions. They place kids throughout the US, and they offer home study services, and post adoption services to residents of North Carolina and New York. I am a big believer in just by personality, probably of taking active steps. And it seems to me and in my experience, this has been effective. And I give an example of a child who was really becoming worried about global warming or climate change. And this was probably at the time 12 or 13, maybe a little younger. So we as a family tried to learn about things that we could do take active steps to do our part to impact climate change, and had that child actively involved. And it was very effective for that child. So let's talk about the thinking through what we can personally do to mitigate that fear.
Speaker 2 43:46
Sure, absolutely. So I love that. That's one thing I always recommend. And I know we've mentioned school shootings a bunch of times on the podcast, but for parents who are anxious, and for kids who are anxious, I so recommend like, join that PTO, get involved in that school, learn about it, talk about it, rather than just trying to tamp down on your fears. There are so many, you know, local, regional national organizations you can get involved in as well, if the school PTO isn't your thing. And so getting involved is a great way to turn it into something that feels productive.
Dawn Davenport 44:22
Hmm, that's a hard one because it's hard to think of active steps. Or maybe I'm just expressing my frustration because it doesn't feel like that the average family can do much to impact that but we can, we can vote we can participate in. So there are things we can actively do. That is true. I'm not sure where this would fit in. But a friend of mines child was terrified of tornadoes. This is at a time when actually we were living in Texas so it was not an unfounded fear. Although if you look at the odds it was stolen, but the mom then they studied where they would be in the house. OS where they could go what they could do. And you know, they talked about how they would know if there was a tornado, so that it made it practical that there was something that that child could actively do or that family could actively do. I'm not sure if that's the same thing is, I guess it falls under taking active steps. But yeah, what about that as an idea,
Speaker 2 45:19
I love that. And actually, it reminds me of a skill from dialectical behavior therapy, which is also a wonderful evidence based treatment that can be used in the treatment of trauma called cope ahead. So when you're feeling really anxious about something, the idea is very similar to what you were saying. So just coping ahead. So saying like, Okay, so let's assume something like this happens. And it doesn't necessarily need to be like a tornado, but even something that we know is for sure, coming down the pike. So let's take for example, the kid you were talking about who was afraid of flying, so let's just say after that trip, the next trip that they're going to take, what are some things we can do? You know, we know we've got a plane ticket to Florida next week, what can we do to help you feel more comfortable on the flight? Well, you know, maybe that's going to be packing their special lovey with them. So like, Okay, so we're gonna pack that maybe it's also a special snack that brings comfort, and maybe it's also something to distract them. So whether that's like an art project, or even tablet time on an airplane, but really coping ahead, so thinking about like, okay, so you know, this is coming down the pike, what are we going to do ahead of time, to help you feel more comfortable in that situation?
Dawn Davenport 46:38
And that, for example, of one of the examples of the parents gave about the child, who was a minority race in her school, becoming fearful that kids are going to say, bullying or racist comments to her practicing, and the mom had done that, but practicing responses, how would you respond? If someone calls you the N word? How would you respond if, if the child is Asian? And they say, you know, you brought the COVID over here or whatever? You know, what are some responses that you could use? And have them in your back pocket?
Speaker 2 47:12
Right? Absolutely, yes, I love that. And for
Dawn Davenport 47:16
those racial ones, I would say that one of the best things parents can do is find someone that is their child's race, and brainstorm with that person with your child. Because if you aren't of that race, you do not have the lived experience of how to do that. So using the true experts, which are adults, you've talked about being open to talking about the fears, and all that is another one, another one we talked about, but we need to add a little flesh to his competency, and mastery, you know, feeling that they can tackle the world that they can do things that they can, I mean, just practical things, it seems to me, you know, that they know how to load the dishwasher, or they know how to wash clothes, or they can make a birdhouse our, I don't know, it just seems to me that when you feel that you are competent, that you are a capable person. When you look at the world, it feels like a less scary place. I'm not sure that that's accurate. It just feels that way to me. What are your thoughts?
Speaker 2 48:17
Yeah, absolutely. So I consider it to be a huge protective factor, feeling like you're competent, and like you can find your way in the world. 100% Yes. And so gosh, some ways to do that. So we already talked about getting them involved with things that they enjoy, and also feel like they're good at but also modeling trying things that you're not good at, and it's okay to fail. And that you can pick yourself back up again. And you can acquire skills so we can learn new things. And then this idea out there that is just so prevalent in pop culture right now that I love this idea that we can do hard things. So you know when your kid says, but it's hard, I can't do it. Well, you know, like, You're strong girl, you can do hard things. And then when they learn that, especially when that's paired with an action, whether that is loading the dishwasher or learning how to ride a bike, it can also be a huge protective factor.
Dawn Davenport 49:13
And you could always harken back to that you were really afraid to ride your bike and all your friends had already learned and you were really afraid it was really hard. But you did it. You figure it out. You did it for one of mine. It was stopping sucking her thumb, which was me she was six. She loved her thumb. It was very, very, very hard. And even as a you know, when she was 10 and 11. Now not with her friends, but she would at home she would say things like, well, I stopped sucking my thumb. I guess I can do this. I mean, because it was horrible. I love that. I did Yeah. And she would remember it and we would say yep, you are somebody who can. The saying was that you could do hard things. I like that even better, but you're the one who can conquer anything because you conquer that and that was really Hard, yes sucking either, you know, and so anyway, like that. So any other final tips that you would give parents on helping our kids cope with what can be a scary world?
Speaker 2 50:12
Yeah, so my final tip is just going to be belief in your inherent ability to be the best parent for your child. Because if you are listening to this podcast and if you care, that is the biggest chunk of the pie. If you love that kid, that is what counts the most and that is the single biggest protective factor. So I would just love it can be so scary parenting a traumatized kiddo. And I would just love if you know that thought could give some comfort to a parent out there.
Dawn Davenport 50:44
Well, thank you so much, Dr. Melissa Goldberg ments. For your wisdom today and thank you for the book. Has your child been traumatized? We truly appreciate your time today.
Speaker 2 50:55
Thank you so much for having me. I've loved getting to chat with you about this.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai