Trauma-Informed Care

Three things happened today to give me a very clear message that it’s time to talk about trauma.

  1. I had the pleasure of hearing Holly Elissa Bruno speak at an early childhood conference today and she mentioned her most recent article, Transforming Trauma into Wisdom.
  2. Earlier the same day, a colleague shared a report on Oprah Winfrey’s recent focus on developmental trauma; she reminded me to approach interactions with a “what happened to this child” mentality versus “what’s wrong with this child?”
  3. The local Child Care Resource Network announced details about a screening of Resilience, the Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.

Truth, just as trauma,

is everywhere;

so is healing.

Trauma-informed care is arguably an essential training topic for every early childhood educator. The core principles of a trauma-informed approach include safety, trust, and collaboration; not surprisingly, those same principles drive early childhood best practices overall. We are in the business of nurturing little hearts and minds, so we have an obligation to nurture them with love and kindness.

Not sure where to start? Knowledge is power – and knowledge guides practice.

Access the PDF here:

Click to access Broken-into-Wholeness.pdf

Access the report here:

Learn more about a film screening and panel discussion here:

Choose Joy

“Choose joy.”

We spent lots of time at today’s Behavior Collaboration meeting discussing behavior management strategies, sharing ideas about “what works” — we’re planning a full day conference for October 2018 and it’s going to be pure awesome, BTW! — and every layer of conversation, every tip and trick, and every success story had one thing in common:

“Choose joy.”

  • Choosing joy means celebrating the messy play and noisy voices and running feet, assuming positive intent and providing positive guidance.
  • Choosing joy means embracing the tearful separations and the not-sharing and the not-so-nice hands, understanding that young children need time to practice these social skills.
  • Choosing joy means prioritizing play and having fun.
  • Choosing joy means remembering that nurturing hearts is just as important as shaping minds.

Give yourself permission to choose joy, even in the most challenging moments. The children in your care deserve it — and so do you.

Butterfly Wishes

There's a small path in Burchfield Park, where children write wishes on paper butterflies and hang them from the trees.
As you might expect, there are wishes for candy, for toys, and for other treats. Scattered among those, you'll find quite few wishes that are less practical, but more magical — wishes for unicorns, or for wings, or my personal favorite, "for 1000 dogs." You're guaranteed to smile, likely with appreciation for the simple pleasures of childhood.

Your heart will break a little though, if you look a little closer. Tangled within the leaves, there are a few wishes that will take your breath away — "that my mom, my dad and me could live a great life all together" or "for my dad not to do drugs."

I walked away with tears in my eyes and intended to share these pictures on my personal Facebook page, simply as a reminder to be kind because you never know someone else's struggle. When I thought more about it, I wanted to share it here, too, because the professional implications can't be overlooked.

The children in our early childhood classrooms may not necessarily be able write these wishes, or even to articulate them — but they may be living them nonetheless. Their hearts may be heavy, their minds might be anxious, and their futures may be uncertain.

I sincerely hope that your students' wishes are filled with unicorns and candy. I also hope you'll remember the wishes that might be unspoken — to feel safe, to feel welcome, and to know that you are loved. Not-so-surprisingly, those wishes often look like "challenging behaviors."

You may not be able to change the realities of a child's home life, but you DO have the capacity to wrap them in empathy and kindness, in every moment that you spend together.

"Behavior management" can (and should) look a lot like love.

ICYMI: 5 Tools for Managing Challenging Behaviors

All Caught Up

We know you’re busy (and that time flies — can you believe it’s officially, finally, Spring??) so we gathered up five recent favorites for you. Enjoy!

  1. Professional Development – upcoming events in WNY
  2. “Tell me what to do instead” – practical tips for using positive language
  3. Meaningful Relationships – 10 Simple Ways to Decrease Challenging Behaviors
  4. Biting Hurts – strategies and suggestions you can use today
  5. Don’t Stop Believing!

PS – don’t forget to find us on Facebook, too!

10 Simple Ways to Decrease Challenging Behaviors 

Much to teachers’ collective dismay, there’s no magic wand for behavior management (although if there was, it would likely look remarkably similar to the Elder Wand featured in Harry Potter, don’t you think?).

Fortunately, experts do agree that the most effective way to decrease challenging behaviors is to increase social competetence — which begins with developing (and maintaining) positive relationships with children.

At the most recent meetings of the WNY Behavior Collaboration, early childhood professionals worked together to create a simple tool that teachers can use to reflect on best practices and make small (but meaningful!) immediate changes to their classrooms.

To learn more about the 10 simple things you can do to decrease challenging behaviors, click here:

Develop Meaningful Relationships with Children in Your Classroom

More easy-to-use tools are in the works and will be posted here as they are finalized. Until then, maybe we’ll keep working on that wand idea, too 🙂

New Year, New Opportunities

Happy New Year! Goal setting, resolutions, and promises to “do better” seem to go hand-in -hand with the beginning of a new year.

If you’re looking to add new tools to your behavior management skill set in 2017, be sure to check out our local Events page.  An opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals might be exactly what you need to ignite (or refresh!) your passion, your patience, and your limitless potential!



Don’t Stop Believin’

More than just a cheesy (albeit catchy!) 80’s song, “don’t stop believing” should be every teacher’s mantra.

  • Believe that children have unlimited potential.
  • Believe that challenging behavior is an unmet need,  not an act of defiance.
  • Believe that meaningful change takes time and consistent effort.
  • Believe that every interaction is a choice to either make a moment, or break a spirit.
  • Believe in yourself — and in every child who’s relying on you to be his role model.

New Tools to Help You Address (and Prevent!) Challenging Behaviors

Video Conferences, Local Events, and Facebook Fun – oh my!


“Tell me what to do instead.”

 When you’re a preschooler who is running in the hallway, pushing a friend, or exhibiting other challenging behaviors, sometimes all you need is an adult who is willing to teach you a more appropriate alternative. Put simply, some children are begging adults, “Tell me what to do instead!”

This simple one-page PDF is full of realistic examples of positive language, with tips for tone and word choice. What a terrific addition to your toolbox!

NYS Pyramid Model Partnership

While there’s no “one size fits all” solution for challenging behaviors, there’s one  tried and true approach that’s proven to be helpful — boosting children’s social emotional competence.

 The Pyramid Model is an evidence-based model focused on strong relationships and social-emotional development — and the NYS Pyramid Model Partnership is committed to helping you access, understand, and apply the pyramid-related supports!

To learn more about the pyramid model partnership, including a complete schedule of upcoming trainings throughout the state, click here: