I recently watched Loving Them Is Not Enough, a three part video series led by Crystal Krueger, LMFT, CCTS-F that is aimed at helping foster parents to care for children that have been through trauma. While this series may have been designed for foster parents though, it is actually quite helpful for anyone that interacts with kids. Whether you’re an aunt, uncle, grandparent, coach, teacher, or a parent, you will get a lot of value out of this video. For more details, check out my review below.
The first thing that is worth noting is that this video series is clearly grounded in science. In fact, Crystal spends time explaining how brains work near the beginning. In particular, the science behind human memory and the way that we process threats is covered in some detail. Covering this is important, since it underpins several of the examples of behaviors and reactions that are outlined later on.
While this video series is based on scientific facts, it is designed to be useful for regular people, not just therapists, psychologists or others with advanced degrees in behavioral studies. Crystal uses a number of different case studies that describe how different children are acting. Then, she uses these case studies to point out which behaviors might offer clues into past trauma.
Children that have been through trauma are not necessarily going to tell you everything that is going on in their mind. So looking at their behavior for insights is really helpful. For example, do they have a strong preference for spending time alone on things like drawing or painting instead of spending time with friends? What might this tell you about the child’s past experiences?
Beyond helping viewers to understand a child’s behavior, Loving Them Is Not Enough offers up actionable advice. For example, Crystal talks about some of the things that you can do as a caregiver in order to make sure that you remain calm when a child is acting out in ways that might cause tensions to rise.
For that matter, Crystal also describes the different signs that you might see (rapid breathing, tense shoulders, etc.) that indicate emotions are starting to rise in children or in yourself. Recognizing these signs is an important first step. Beyond just recognizing them though, Crystal offers a number of tips for de-escalating things.
Caring for a child that has been through trauma can be both challenging and rewarding. Naturally, caregivers want to build trust and help improve behaviors over time. As a caregiver, you might be wondering what is realistic in terms of behavioral change? Luckily Loving Them Is Not Enough covers this as well.
At the end of the day, caring for a child is much more a marathon than a sprint. So, having realistic expectations of how quickly or slowly behavioral change can happen can help you work through difficult times without getting discouraged.
Overall, Loving Them Is Not Enough delivers loads of helpful information. I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone that is caring for a child that has been through trauma in the past.
Ryan is a co-founder of Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. He writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.
When he isn’t spending time with his wife, Cristin, or his two children, he can often be found running around on the tennis court.