This resource, from Megan K. Lerner, LCSW and Anthony T. Vesco, PhD, will help you work with families and children who are struggling with behavioral issues.

There are two versions of this resource, one to hand write and one to complete on the computer. 

Individualized Coping Plan FILLABLE

Individualized Coping Plan PRINTABLE

Understanding Trauma Exposures and Their Impact on Children’s Development

This printable handout by Megan K Lerner, LCSW supports adults in understanding how children can be impacted by trauma.

Cuando los proveedores se encuentren a niños jugando con temas difíciles, es importante entender cómo interactuar con los niños en su juego, cuándo y cómo interrumpir, y cómo hablar con las familias sobre nuestras observaciones. Este folleto de una página, descargable e imprimible, escrito por los profesionales especializados en salud mental Megan Lerner, LCSW y Anthony T. Vesco, PhD, puede ayudarle a prepararse para estas situaciones difíciles. 

SP-Managing Play Re-Enactment (1)

Supporting Children’s Development of Self-Concept

This resource was developed with Megan K. Lerner, LCSW, and Anthony T. Vesco, PhD, as part of their series on trauma informed principles and practices in Family Child Care settings.

This nine-part course (approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes) from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network will teach participants about “early childhood social-emotional development; the impact of stress and trauma; reflect on the possible meanings of children’s behaviors; explore the influence of culture on families’ socialization goals; and become familiar with a number of strategies aimed to promote secure attachment and safe socialization practices.”

Providers will need to sign up for a free account to access this resource.

Attachment Vitamins: Interactive Course on Early Childhood Attachment, Stress, and Trauma (

When providers encounter children engaging in play with troubling themes, it’s important to understand how to interact with the children in their play, when and how to interrupt, and how to talk to families about our observations. This one-page downloadable/printable document from mental health professionals Megan Lerner, LCSW and Anthony T. Vesco, PhD, can help prepare you for these difficult situations.

TS Managing Play Re-Enactment

This printable/downloadable resource will help providers understand difficult behaviors that may be a result of trauma, and support children in developing skills to overcome their difficulties.

TS Strategies for Helping Youth With Trauma Exposure



Accessible version below:


Strategies for Helping Youth with Trauma Exposure


Strategies Emotional Dysregulation

Assist them in identifying their emotions

Using feelings charts/emojis, asking them to rate their intensity

Use words to describe how you (the adult) are feeling and use that to model expected behaviors for the child

Allow them to express their own thoughts

“What is your brain saying to you?”

Incorporate superheroes or cartoon characters to assist with talking back to thoughts and/or feelings

Have a designated coping space

Fidgets, bean bag chairs, pillows/stuffies, lowered lights, minimal noises, tents

Provide clear and concise directions

“We need to sit down.”

“Let’s take some deep breaths.”

Consider the basic need of the child to help improve their mood

Do they need a snack, nap or water


Strategies for Withdrawal

Allow them to take space for a while and see if they naturally engage with time

Identifying specific, labeled positives in the child, even then the child is expressing feelings of guilt, anger or sadness

Validate the feelings by saying things like, “I bet that is really scary!” or “That would make me mad too.”

Encourage them to engage in a positive activity that increases energy and is the opposite of their urge to isolate/shut down

Examples include having a dance party, making them a special helper, let them choose an activity for the whole group to engage in

Give them choices to take breaks or to do independent activities while also encouraging them to join the group (don’t give up!)

Remind the child that when they are ready to participate everyone will be excited to join them

Assist them with joining in a task with a partner/small group

Scaffold interaction until you can fade yourself out


Strategies for Aggressive Behaviors

As long as they have safe hands and feet, let the child know you will be ignoring the outburst and then immediately provide praise for calm body behaviors when you see them

Keep language focused on their behavioral choices and not focused on the child’s personality or characteristics

Try saying, “I see your hands are having a hard time being safe.” And not: “You are usually such a safe person, what is happening here?”

Consider the purpose of the child’s behavior

Are they trying to escape a situation

To get a tangible need met

To gain attention of an adult or test the attachment of the adult

To self-stimulate (due to an under-stimulated or “numb” nervous system)

Understanding the purpose of the behavior can assist you in meeting the child’s needs and provides context for negotiating your next step


Ask Yourself These Questions Before You Intervene

Can I shift my perspective from one of managing behaviors to supporting and growing a child’s executive functioning?

Can I view problematic behaviors as a child not having mastery over certain executive functioning skills?

Am I optimizing children’s sense of autonomy and providing an opportunity to learn and problem-solve?

The trauma-informed approach is guided by the “Four R’s”: Realize the widespread impact of trauma and understanding potential paths for recovery; recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the system; respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices; and seeks to actively resist retraumatization. (SAHMSA,2014)  This Town Square-created resource gives practical ways to utilize the Four R’s.

Trauma informed care handout

No words could describe our sadness, outrage, and devastation over the past few weeks. We are thinking about the children, teachers, and families who were and continue to be tragically affected by senseless acts of violence. As educators, parents, and humans, we too are struggling with our emotions and with what to say to children. Below are a few resources to use as we face these difficult conversations. 


           Resources for Speaking with Children About Difficult Subjects

          Talking to children about the Shooting

          Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers

Lastly, we want to share a resource from the Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center as a reminder of the importance of caring for ourselves, especially in moments of grief. 

          Caring for Ourselves as We Care for Others



El cuidado informado sobre el trauma se guía por las “Cuatro R”: Es consciente (realize) del impacto generalizado del trauma y comprende las posibles vías de recuperación; reconoce los signos y síntomas del trauma en los clientes, las familias, el personal y otras personas relacionadas con los sistemas; responde integrando plenamente los conocimientos sobre el trauma en las políticas, los procedimientos y las prácticas, y trata de resistir activamente la retraumatización (SAHMSA, 2014)

Este recurso creado por Town Square ofrece formas prácticas de utilizar las Cuatro R.

El Cuidado Informado sobre el Trauma