Trauma Informed Care for Challenging Children in a Ministry or Classroom Setting

I narrate this overview of how to implement trauma informed care in a ministry or classroom setting that my friend Julie Kouri put together. Even though it only touches on the subject, I trust it will motivate you to learn more about how trauma effects the children in your classroom. And, I hope you will recognize some strategies that will help you as you work with not only children with a trauma background, but all of your children.

Here is the outline of what you will find in the presentation:

Trauma Informed Care


  1. To understand how trauma and risk factors affect the brain
  2. To learn that the empowering, connecting, and correcting model of trauma-informed care is useful for all children in a ministry/classroom setting
  3. To learn practical interventions along with empowering, connecting, and correcting strategies

Why is this training needed?

For parents of children with a trauma background the strategies available to help a child feel love and trust and to mature in their reasoning and judgement are few. In fact, the many traditional options may cause more harm.

Brain Chemistry

  • Executive part of the brain – controls reason, logic, language, interpretation of cues, the ability to regulate, etc.
  • Survival part of the brain – controls our fight, flight, or freeze reflex
  • For most, the executive part of the brain helps keep “the lid” on the lower part of the brain

6 trauma related risk factors

  1. Prenatal Stress
  2. Difficult Labor or Birth
  3. Early Medical Trauma
  4. Abuse
  5. Neglect
  6. Traumatic Events

How do we fix it?

One of the common threads in all children who have experienced trauma is that when their brains needed another brain/person to help them understand the outside event or experience, there was no one OR they were in a situation where a very caring person could not help them (NICU, medical trauma, etc).

Our brains do not develop on their own. We are not born with all that we need, but, in fact, our brains REQUIRE connection and relationship with others in order to mature.

One Important Priority!

Connecting with the child – 80% of handling difficult behavior is connecting with the child BEFORE the correction is needed. If you don’t have a relationship, a trust, with the child then you won’t get very far with them.

Have you connected with the child BEFORE an issue arises?

Are you connecting with them in a playful way and using the proper DEGREE of correction to keep them on track?

Do they know you care and love them? Did they interpret your actions and words as love?

3 Common Challenges preschool teachers face

  1. Timeframe
  2. Stimulating Environment
  3. Disrespect or Disobedience

Practical suggestions for challenging schedules/timeframes

  • Protein snacks
  • Hydration
  • Arrange activities so that the children are prepared

Practical suggestions for a stimulating environment

  • Give a child with noise sensitivity earphones/earplugs. Let a child choose the area of the room they want to stand in.
  •  If the child has difficulty regulating their bodies from being excited to being calm, then give them something heavy to carry like a stack of books or a weighted backpack to the next activity or room.
  • Provide predictability or a heads up about transitions. Give a 5 minute warning or allow the child who has difficulty “announce” the next activity.
  • Help them calm their bodies in a playful way.

Practical suggestions for disrespect or disobedience

  • Can you say that again with respect?”
  • If a child demands something, say “Are you asking or telling? Can you say that again with respect?”
  • If a child becomes angry, throws a tantrum, or refuses to take part, you may need to change the subject for a few moments to help them calm down. But don’t let them get away with the disrespect or disobedience.


The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind

Children from Hard Places and the Brain – the video I reference in the presentation.

Have Questions? Ask them in the comment section below!

If you want this presented (along with the 12 minute video clip) at your church or school, please contact me at

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

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One thought on “Trauma Informed Care for Challenging Children in a Ministry or Classroom Setting

  1. I’m the Preschool Pastor at The Church at Canyon Creek and Kenny came and spoke to my preschool ministry staff and also with our weekday preschool staff. His knowledge and passion of this subject material was a huge blessing to our staffs. What he shares about is so helpful for children in all areas and places. It left our teachers wanting more. I highly recommend hearing him speak.