Reaching and Teaching Children Exposed to Trauma

February 5, 2020 - 3 minutes read

By Barbara Sorrels, EdD

“It was once believed that traumatic memories in the early days of life had no impact on the life of an individual. We now know this is not true.” ~ B. Sorrels

Now, perhaps more than ever before, we are hearing a great deal about trauma and its impact on young children. We’ve learned that a child can experience trauma even in the womb, trauma which will impact that child’s life in negative ways for years to come.

But what exactly is trauma. How is it defined? What signals do young children who are experiencing trauma give us?

Trauma impacts mental health, relationships, sensory processing, self-regulation, social skills, development, learning, physical health …yes, basically everything critical to living a wholesome, happy life!

Dr. Sorrels’ book addresses trauma, explaining how it impacts the brain and how it manifests itself. Her book not only helps readers identify characteristics of trauma but also offers strategies for helping children. For example, she gives strategies for teaching impulse control, for conflict resolution, for dealing with sensory issues, for teaching behavior modification, and so on.

The first two chapters focus on the brain and explain how and why incidents of trauma in even the youngest of children remain in their memories.

Chapters 3 through 7 discuss the effects trauma has on the various aspects of a person’s life and offer strategies an adult can use to help a child work through issues. The remaining chapters (8-11) discuss and offer strategies for organizing the physical environment, time management, and curricular approaches. Chapter 11’s emphasis is on the organization of various classroom centers.

The book’s resources include recommended children’s books, readings for adults, and internet resources. The index is thorough and helpful for those seeking particular information.

The book is an eye-opener! Its information is important for all who serve young children, and yet it is so sad to know how trauma affects so many youngsters. We want to think of childhood as full of happy, playful, learning moments. This book opens our eyes to the darker side to help us help children who are dealing with issues that are hard for most of us to even fathom.

Reviewed by: Joyce Johanson