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Trauma-Informed Parenting – Strategies for Supporting Your Teen

Trauma-Informed Parenting - Strategies for Supporting Your Teen

Trauma-informed parenting is a way of raising children that considers how past experiences, especially difficult or traumatic ones, can affect a child’s behavior, emotions, and development. It’s not just for children who have experienced major trauma; it’s a helpful approach for all caregivers. some key aspects of trauma-informed parenting include understanding adolescent trauma, identifying changes in behaviors, and establishing open communication to build trust and safety. 

At Nexus Teen Academy, we recognize the challenges of trauma in adolescent development. Our mission is to help with trauma-informed parenting strategies for healing traumatized teens. These strategies help parents support their teens’ development, behavior, and relationships with compassion and understanding. Together, let’s embark on this journey of healing and growth.

Understanding The Impact of Trauma on Teen Development

Adolescent trauma has profound effects on a teenager’s growth and development. It affects cognitive, emotional, and physical teen development.

Cognitive Effects of Trauma Impact Teen Decision-Making Skills

Trauma can have long-term cognitive effects on teenagers. Cognition is the ability of an individual to think. Teenagers suffering from adolescent trauma find it hard to concentrate or focus on a single task. They may also experience side effects like impaired decision-making skills.

Adolescence is often difficult for executive functioning skills, so the strategies usually learned during this time are not internalized. As adults, they may struggle with the same challenges.

Emotional Effects of Trauma on Teen Mental Health

Trauma also affects the emotional development of a teenager. It causes emotional dysregulation, making it hard for teenagers to control their emotions. It can result in heightened anxiety, feelings of despair, hopelessness, or intense distress. Teens may also experience intense mood swings, aggression, and numbness. Such emotional rollercoasters may strain a teenager’s relationships.

Being unable to regulate their emotional world will lead to difficulty in maintaining emotional regulation and making emotionally intelligent decisions as they grow older. These effects may lead to the development of anxiety disorders or depressive disorders.

Physical Effects of Trauma Disrupt The Growth of The Teen

Physically, trauma can manifest in various ways, including lethargy, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances. Teenagers may also experience somatic complaints like headaches or stomach aches. Additionally, trauma can disrupt normal physiological processes, potentially impacting growth and development during adolescence.

Parenting Strategies

To support teens who have experienced trauma, parents can implement specific strategies to promote proper mental and physical growth of the teen.

  • Establishing Routines: Creating structured routines can provide stability and predictability for traumatized teens. It may make them feel in control amidst the emotional turmoil. Consistent schedules for meals, sleep, and daily activities can promote a sense of safety and reduce anxiety. Ensuring that these routines allow for adaptability is important. This can be done with prewarning if a change is going to happen, offering limited options for choices, etc. whilst you build your teen’s ability to feel safe within their environment, even if there are changes.
  • Promoting a Sense of Safety: Safety can be fostered through creating a healthy home environment. Healthy environments include emotional support and clear boundaries. You can do this by starting family activities such as eating together, age-appropriate chores that support the household, reward, and praise for work well done, and time set aside to talk and listen to each other.
  • Encouraging Healthy Expressions of Emotions: Parents need to create avenues that encourage teens to communicate freely. Creating open communication opportunities and validating experiences is key to creating a safe space for expression. If your teen hesitates to talk at first, you could write letters. You could also use joint activities such as cooking, gardening, or art to create a comforting setting for a curious and nonjudgmental conversation.

Trauma's Effects on Teen Behavior

Teens grappling with adolescent trauma exhibit several behavioral changes. These teen trauma signs and symptoms manifest differently in adolescents depending on the type and severity of trauma. Some of the most prevalent is withdrawal from social interactions or hobbies. 

Some teens may also display intense aggression, participating in risky behaviors like self-harm or punching through walls.

They may also start abusing drugs as a maladaptive coping mechanism. 

Parents need to empathize with their teenagers, as frustrating as it may be. They need to understand the underlying issues to enable trauma-informed parenting.

Parenting Strategies

Some of the trauma-informed parenting strategies that parents need to embrace include:

  • Setting Clear Boundaries: Clear boundaries encourage consistency, respect, and safety . Communicate with your teen about your expectations and the consequences of their actions.
  • Consistent and Calm Responses: Calm responses help make a traumatized teen feel safe and not judged. Avoid reacting angrily or harshly, as it could escalate conflict. Instead, respond calmly and compassionately. Seek to understand and address the underlying emotions triggering their actions.
  • Modeling Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Act as a role model for your teen. Positive behaviors like effective stress management can help teens cope better with their emotions. You can also encourage your teenager to seek support, which is necessary for timely interventions.
  • Encouraging Open Communication: Create a supportive environment where teens feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings. Encourage open communication and listen to them without judgment.
  • Seeking Professional Help: Seek professional help to complement the established parenting strategies for traumatized teens. Include them in the therapy decision-making process to make them feel in control of their healing.

Impact on Teen Relationships After Trauma

Teenagers battling trauma may refrain from interacting with family members or peers. Eventually, it could strain their relationship dynamic. Other adolescents may also find it difficult to trust people after undergoing a traumatic event. Lack of trust may hinder their ability to form healthy and long-lasting relationships. 

Despite the limitations, all hope is not lost. There are several parenting strategies to support teens after trauma.

Parenting Strategies

Parenting strategies for traumatized teens to help nurture relationships after trauma include:

  • Build Trust through Consistent Actions: One way to rebuild trust with a traumatized teen is to be consistent in your actions. Prove to your teenager that they can rely on you. Make promises you can keep. Consistent support helps teens feel secure and valued. Remember to be patient and persistent; it may take time to mend compromised trust fully.
  • Encourage Positive Social Interactions: Create opportunities for your teenager to interact with family, friends, and peers. You can also encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities or support groups to help build meaningful relationships. 
  • Incorporating Professional Support: Recovering from adolescent trauma requires a lot of strategies. The most important is seeking professional support. Professional support complements parenting strategies for traumatized teens. Parents collaborate with trained therapists during therapy to provide specialized support and guidance tailored to their teenager’s needs. Therapy also treats underlying issues, providing holistic treatment to teenagers battling trauma. Professional support may also help reduce the chances of potential relapse or recurrence of the symptoms.

Choosing the Right Therapist For Treating Adolescent Trauma in Arizona

Several factors need to be considered when looking for a therapist who specializes in the treatment of adolescent trauma. Think of these points as a guide to finding your teen’s best therapist.

  • Has experience working with teens, especially adolescents with trauma.
  • Proper state licenses and credentials: There isn’t a specific “teen therapist” license, but some standard licenses for working with adolescents include:
    • Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC)
    • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
    • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
    • Licensed Psychologist (PsyD or PhD)

While a general license allows treating trauma, some therapists may have additional certifications or training specific to trauma treatment. Look for therapists with qualifications like Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP).

  • Consider therapists who utilize evidence-based practices for treating trauma, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) or Teen Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Their working modality and framework are compatible with your teenager’s needs and personality.
  • Their location is convenient to minimize the chances of your teenager missing therapy.
  • Check therapist websites or contact them directly to inquire about their experience with teen trauma.
  • They accept your insurance and payment options.

Here are some resources to verify therapist licenses in Arizona:

Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners: www.azdhs.gov

Integrating Professional Advice with Parenting Strategies for Traumatized Teens

Integrating professional advice and parenting strategies for traumatized teens is beneficial. It helps promote the recovery success of adolescent trauma. To integrate professional advice, parents need to understand the therapeutic modalities used. This helps parents incorporate the techniques used in a teenager’s routine.

Parents should also maintain an open line of communication with their teenager’s therapist. This helps them understand their teenager’s progress and triggers and report any behavior or emotional state shifts.

Additionally, parents must be flexible enough to adapt to changes in their teenagers’ treatment programs. Teenagers’ treatment plans evolve during treatment based on their needs and responses. Therefore, parents should remain open to new approaches to effectively support their teen’s healing and growth.

Nexus Teen Academy for Trauma-Informed Care

Nexus Teen Academy is Arizona’s leading provider of trauma-informed care for adolescents. We offer comprehensive trauma-informed care at our residential center to address Teen PTSD. Our dedicated team of expert professionals collaborate with parents to support their teenagers’ unique needs. We offer specialized mental health treatment programs designed specifically for teenagers battling with trauma. These programs incorporate evidence-based therapies to help teens heal from their past experiences. They also help teens build resilience and positive coping skills. 

We also provide a supportive environment where adolescents feel safe and valued. Through individualized care plans, teens receive the support they need to thrive academically, emotionally, physically, and socially.

How Parents Can Build a Trauma-Informed Home

Life after adolescent trauma is never the same. A noticeable shift in behaviors, emotions, and thoughts is observed. The overall well-being of a teenager becomes compromised. Therefore, special care is paramount. The most important step as a parent is creating a safe environment. Create an environment that makes your teen comfortable. An environment that fosters and supports healing. 

Such an environment requires several strategies put in place. Some of them include:

Safety

Create a safe and secure space free from all triggers. Your adolescents should be able to co-exist freely in the home without having constant panic attacks. This may involve talking to your teen to understand what they would love included in the house to make them feel safe. 

Predictability

The best way to have predictability is to establish routines. Routines help create order in an individual’s life. It is also one of the best ways to alleviate stress. Parents can create consistent meal times, bedtimes, or daily activities to make adolescents feel more in control.

Empathy

Battling adolescent trauma takes a toll on a teenager’s mental health. They need constant reassurance and love. A little empathy goes a long way in brightening their day. You can do this by actively listening to them. Offer your support and remind them they are worthy and enough. It will make your teen feel supported and valued.

Practical Tips for Everyday Trauma-Informed Parenting

Additional parenting strategies for a trauma-informed environment include:

Routine Check-Ins

Check-in with your teenager daily. Make time to converse with them and understand how they are doing. Ask them what triggered their emotions and what you can do to make them feel better. Regular mental check-ins encourage open communication and offer much-needed reassurance to a traumatized teen.

Educating Teenagers on Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Teenagers suffering from adolescent trauma are likely to pick up bad habits. Most are influenced by the desire to cope with the overwhelming feelings of a traumatic event. Parents can instead equip their teenagers with healthy coping skills. Skills like regular exercise, mindful meditation, and a healthy diet can make a difference in stress relief.

Celebrate Progress

Praise after attempting or accomplishing a task feels good. In the same way, praising your adolescents for the little progress they make is helpful. It helps boost their self-worth and encourages positive behavior. It also makes them put more effort into their trauma recovery journey.

Reassurance

Adolescent trauma is not linear. Do not focus on their shortcomings. Focus on their strengths and how far they have come. In case of a relapse, remind your teenager that it is an opportunity to learn more about their triggers.

Conclusion

Trauma has profound effects on a teenager’s overall well-being. It affects their physical, emotional, and cognitive functions. Adolescents struggling with trauma may face various challenges during recovery, but there is hope: trauma-informed parenting. Trauma-informed parenting helps parents create strategies that support their teen’s recovery. Such methods include creating supportive environments, creating routines, and promoting healthy coping mechanisms.

It is crucial to remember that these strategies need to be implemented with professional support. At Nexus Academy, we collaborate with parents to provide trauma-informed care to their adolescents. We offer comprehensive treatment modalities and a nurturing environment to encourage healing. Are you planning to enroll your teenager in a trauma treatment program? Contact us for guidance, support, and resources on teen trauma. Together, we can foster resilience and empower your teen to overcome their past experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Signs of trauma include constant aggression and feelings of hopelessness or despair. Noticing your teen indulging in risky behaviors like drug abuse may also be a sign of trauma.

Give them time to talk about their feelings. Create a supportive environment to encourage teenagers to express their feelings. In the meantime, remind them they can trust you to listen to them whenever they are ready to open up.

Reassure them that seeking help is not something to be ashamed about. You can also teach them the benefits of therapy and involve them in decision-making.

Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) help teens struggling with trauma manage their emotions. Cognitive Processing Therapy also helps teens adopt healthy coping mechanisms.

Seek support from close support systems like family and friends. You can also enroll in therapy to help you manage your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Therapy can also equip you with positive coping skills to support recovery.

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