“To me, trauma ingrained care is about us. It’s how we live and breathe. It’s a way of life that involves self-care, emotional regulation, etc. The work we have to do to really be present for others.” -Shari Simmons, Executive Director of Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center
Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center (FMRTC) practices trauma “ingrained” care at our facility. We also encourage parents to utilize some of these principles in their homes when their child returns from treatment. “Trauma ingrained care” recognizes that people caring for troubled teens may have their own triggers and traumas that come up during their work. Caregivers and parents might also experience these feelings when helping their kids during a crisis or a meltdown. Working with or living with a troubled child can be challenging and can bring up feelings within us that may feel distressing or alarming. When we approach a crisis with a mentality of trauma ingrained care, we are recognizing the importance of taking care of our mental health and learning to regulate our emotions.
Crisis: A Heightened State of Fear
To paraphrase FMRTC Executive Director Simmons, a crisis is a heightened state of fear. When our children are in a crisis, they are feeling like their world is collapsing. They fear that the needs they have will continue to go unmet. They may not know how to express what they need and need us to guide them. When we feel heightened states of fear, we may lose our ability to think rationally. We may not be thinking about the immediate or long-term consequences of our actions. With trauma ingrained care, we are being mindful of our own state of mind so that we can be the rational problem-solving in the crisis. During a crisis, our child needs us to help them understand better ways of getting their needs met to teach them to be independent adults in the future.
Regulating Our Own Emotions: Set an Example
We can set an example for our children by regulating our emotional states and caring for our mental health. We can show our child the importance of self-care while also getting the self-care that we need to be there for them. During a crisis, we can set an example by presenting ourselves in a calm manner when helping our children. We can use calming techniques to regulate ourselves and encourage our children to join us. This can teach them how to calm themselves down while we are de-escalating the current crisis moment. Our children look to us as their parents or caregivers to set an example for them. Whether they express this or not, our children do look up to us to show them how to behave. We can leverage this tendency and set a positive example for them.
Recognizing the Opportunities of a Crisis
When dealing with a crisis situation, we have to remember to be patient. Our child is learning how to get their needs met. Once we understand what the need is and agree to a compromise with our child, we have to remember to praise them for calming down and speaking with us. We may have learned to not “cave in” as parents when children throw tantrums or use maladaptive behaviors to get their needs met. Sometimes, though, we need to show compassion and realize they are doing the best that they can. When we start to think that our child is just “getting one over on us,” we may be bringing our own past to the present situation. Our parents or caregivers may have been tough and firm on us. We may feel that we need to do the same for our children. When children are troubled, dealing with addictions or other clinical issues, they may need more compassion than discipline. We have to remember that how we were raised may not be right for our children.
When we use trauma ingrained care to crisis management, we look inward to our own biases, traumas, and reactions to the crisis situations we are helping our kids through. We want to be careful not to be reactive to a crisis and keep a level head. We can do ourselves a service by learning more about caring for ourselves and learning how to de-stress. Remember that we need to care for ourselves if we are going to be of any service to our children. We have to be calm and patient in situations that may be triggering to us. When we notice these triggers, we may need to take a break ourselves and learn how to help ourselves to help someone else.
Trauma ingrained care is an approach to caring for our children that involves being sure to care for ourselves. We need to be mindful of our own emotions and how we might be presenting ourselves to our children during a crisis. We might need to learn self-care activities and need to deal with our own traumas that might be triggered during our child’s crisis. Helping a troubled child through a heightened emotional state requires us to be in a calm and collected state of mind. We might need to learn not to react to the situation. We might need to do some calming activities to get ourselves into a rational frame of mind to help them problem-solve. We also need to be able to recognize when we need a break or trust our partner to tell us when we seem too upset to handle the situation. If your child is struggling with addictions or other severe issues, call Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center at (303) 443-3343 for more tips and help.