Sketchnotes on Parenting, Trauma, and Childhood Adversity


Sketchnote on parenting and trauma.

Instead of questioning (“How could you?”) or punishing (“How dare you!”) look for the entry point for empathy (“Oh, of course you…”).

When someone – especially kids but inclusive of us adults – has a HUGE reaction to a minor thing, the reaction probably is not actually about the thing. More often, it’s fear or trauma rising to the surface, or simply due to a lack of resources to cope in that moment. You can react to the behavior or you can validate it. Validating doesn’t mean affirming reactions that were harmful, hurtful, or dangerous; it means naming the powerful emotions the person is feeling, affirming the *feeling,* offering soothing/containment, and *then* dealing with the consequences of their reaction. Doing so builds trust, parent-child bonding, and – over time – the capacity within our brains for less reactivity and more self-soothing.

These notes were taken during a lecture by Steve Call PhD, author of the book “Reconnect.”

On Childhood Adversity

Sketchnote on childhood adversity and poverty.

Giving the most vulnerable a leg up, like we could through reallocating funds currently used to militarize police, is win-win-win: supporting all kids in accessing resources needed to equitably thrive, reducing the mental health effects of poverty, and saving billions of taxpayer dollars in the long run (see yesterday’s post on the 13.7% rate of return on investment when taxpayers fund early education).

This cutaway from a sketchnote I shared last year features research on how childhood poverty and trauma shape brains. What it doesn’t cover is the amazing neuroplasticity of adult brains, which makes deep change and growth possible throughout our lifespan. For adults experiencing the after-effects of childhood trauma or poverty, it’s never too late for recovery and posttraumatic growth.

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Parenting, trauma, logic and emotional validation

Image Description for Screen Readers:

There are two main images in this article, both of which are sketchnotes.

The first sketchnote begins, “Trauma from the past is always part of the present. If someone has a huge response to something small consider… [Word art text bubble] it may be a trauma response. If so, logic won’t help but care will. Care soothes. Care calms. Care grounds. ADJUST RECOGNIZING and gently naming the presence of trauma can build trust and reduce conflict. Try the magic phrase of validation: [image of magic wand saying “of course”] of course: 1. You feel sad, 2. That’s frustrating, 3. You are upset right now. [Word art states: parents are not meant to meet every need] we are meant to learn to self-soothe – which we cannot do if all of our needs are met and all of our problems are fixed for us. Parents and partners don’t need to offer a resolution, just 1. Awareness, 2. Validation. Validation only counts if it is authentic.”

The second sketchnote begins, “CHILDHOOD TRAUMA impacts both brain development and mental health [arrow pointing to the words] even if symptoms of PTSD are not present. [Below childhood trauma header is this list of impacts] early puberty. Premature brain development. Mental illness. Kids exposed to trauma or poverty have brains that look like adult brains. Fast brain development is not good [arrow] it indicates incomplete or skips stages. [Center of image shows a hand holding an empty bowl, next to two smaller hands holding an empty plate) Poverty impacts young brains similarly as trauma. [Word art featuring the words: “even in functional families”] Poverty [line] is linked with small increase in incidence and severity of: 1. Mood/anxiety, 2. Phobias/behavior, 3. Disorders/psychosis. Visually translated by Lindsay Braman. Source: University of Pennsylvania. Lead researcher Raquel E Gur PhD MD.”

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