Drastic, Encouraging Changes

In trauma informed care, we are taught that a child who approaches someone new as if they’ve known them their whole lives, is displaying indiscriminate friendliness. Children with trauma histories often miss the key developmental milestones of attaching to a safe adult. Whether raised in a children’s home or between various family members, they may not develop the discernment between what makes an adult safe or unsafe. This can lead to a child being overly affectionate with those they don’t know well. Back2Back staff work diligently to model safe touch and respectful boundaries with every child they serve.

Last October, Back2Back staff, Jess Linker, met a brother and sister new to a partnering children’s home in Mexico. The young boy was withdrawn, showing no desire to engage with anyone. His sister immediately ran and jumped into Jess’ arms. Staff spent the next several weeks working with the siblings, modeling safe touch and asking permission before hugging others. Two weeks later, Jess was on a girls outing, and she was approached by the same little girl. “Hello, Jess. May I give you a hug?” She asked with a smile.

“It was a drastic, encouraging change,” shared Jess. “I was happy to hug her, seeing a growing understanding of how to keep herself safe around new people.” This is just one way children learn about attachment through example, growing their safety and awareness of every situation they’re in. 

While the young girl connected with others, her brother remained to the side of most activities, until an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) team visited, bringing big plans. The team created obstacle courses and friendly competitions for the children and caregivers. With the understanding that play provides healing, the OCR team wanted their time with the children to be filled with laughter, fun, and play. 

As the week progressed and children formed connections with the team members, staff watched as the little boy who kept completely to himself for months stepped into interactions and competition with renewed vigor. He ended up winning second place in one of the races, and as he was celebrated by staff and visiting guests, a softness started to replace his sharp edges.

This is the power of every staff member, visiting guest, and advocate having an understanding of trauma. When we know how it affects each child experiencing it, we’re better equipped to speak new words and ideas into existence. What’s more, every child’s belief system begins the process of healing – removing the negative messages and accepting those of positivity and care. Please join Back2Back in prayer as staff continue to pursue each child through trauma-informed care.