Best Practice

Behaviour: Inclusion using a trauma-informed approach

Some challenging behaviour in schools will be due to learned trauma responses. Dr Pooky Knightsmith offers some pointers for a more inclusive, trauma-informed approach

Some of the children who may struggle to engage in class or whose behaviour presents us with challenge are exhibiting a learned trauma response. Using a trauma-informed approach will support these children (and their peers as well).

Trauma rewires the brain. When we are in danger our thinking, speaking brains shut down and we go into fight, flight, freeze or faint mode. When that happens repeatedly or continuously this can end up as a default response, with these pathways strengthened through repeated use while other pathways go neglected.

The good news is that brains are plastic and every single time a child has a positive experience or interaction a little bit more work is being done to move towards a brain whose default wiring is not a fear response. Remember:

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