Toolkit Teaches Young Parents Trauma-Sensitive Caregiving

A mother comforts her child.

As a provider, you know the young parents you serve face a big learning curve— their own adverse experiences may affect their ability to parent, and their children may have been exposed to trauma such as domestic violence or parental drug use. A recently published guide may be the perfect resource to teach young clients how to respond to the developmental needs of their children.

Nurses at the Spokane Regional Health District in Washington created, “1·2·3 Care: A Trauma-Sensitive Toolkit for Caregivers of Children,” to help caregivers interact with children who have had traumatic experiences. Though designed for a broader audience, the toolkit’s engaging graphics make it a youth-friendly tool for working with pregnant and parenting young people. It’s easy for staff to pull out sections of the content for classes or workshops thanks to numerous handouts, articles, and web links.

In addition to educating young parents about caregiving, the 178-page guide provides youth with an opportunity to better understand how they may have been affected by their own adverse experiences. Learning about child development and how to appropriately respond to the needs of children at each stage of growth may help youth nurture their own children and break the cycle of intergenerational maltreatment.

Here are some sections from the toolkit:

  • Attachment. After explaining what attachment is and why it’s important for caregivers to build healthy relationships with children, this section provides over a dozen handouts with practical tips and illustrations. For example, one graphic demonstrates how parents can help their children feel safe by creating a “Circle of Security.”
  • Emotional Regulation. This section offers parents several tools to teach their children how to regulate their emotions, especially when they feel angry or upset. Parents can take advantage of the lyrics to the Belly Breathe song from Sesame Street, a relaxation thermometer poster, and other songs and chants that help children stay calm during transitions.
  • Repair. When parents and children make mistakes, it’s an opportunity to strengthen the parent-child relationship, set healthy boundaries, and create a safe space. Resources such as a link to an article from the Sound Discipline blog remind parents that making and repairing mistakes helps children understand we’re all imperfect and human.

Read the complete toolkit.

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Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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