Episode #25 – Using Conscious Discipline with Children Impacted by Domestic Violence

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men are victims of domestic violence. Each year, 5 million children in the United States witness domestic violence in their homes. These traumatic experiences profoundly impact children, making them fearful, anxious and always on guard. They may feel worthless, powerless and starved for affection and approval.

Children affected by domestic violence, trauma and chronic stress find it difficult to trust and connect with others. They feel unsafe and are often defensive and destructive. On the opposite end of the spectrum, these children may dissociate and shut down. The good news is that we can make a difference.

In this episode, Kelly Frazier-Wawire shares her experiences working in Chicago’s public schools with children who have been exposed to domestic violence and chronic stress. Kelly has worked in education for 15 years, spending 10 of these years with Chicago Public Schools (CPS). In 2011, she left the classroom to study clinical social work, providing play-based therapy to children on Chicago’s West Side. Now, Kelly is a Social Emotional Learning Specialist for CPS. Listen as she explains how Conscious Discipline has made a powerful, positive difference in the lives of children who have experienced trauma and violence.

Essential Takeaways
• Children who witness domestic violence are expected to remain silent about this family secret. They bury feelings of shame in the nervous system, often creating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may blame themselves and feel isolated and vulnerable.
• For these children, the School Family, I Love You Rituals, and Greeting Rituals are especially powerful.
• It’s also very important for teachers to change the way they view children who have experienced trauma and their behavior. Behaviors that are often perceived as “calling for attention” are actually “calling for connection.”
• Conscious Discipline provides concrete, practical strategies—and hope—to teachers in the most challenging schools. It gives them the skills and tools needed to support students who have witnessed ongoing violence and experienced chronic stress. This can restore the joy of teaching and prevent teachers from burning out.
• Conscious Discipline fulfills essential needs such as safety and order, a schoolwide supportive environment, trust, shared power, and social emotional learning for both children and adults. Together, these components create an environment where children who have experienced trauma can thrive and be successful.

Steps for Tomorrow
• Start with a small group of interested teachers who are willing to buy into the process of Conscious Discipline.
• Consider beginning with a chapter-by-chapter book study, gradually incorporating Conscious Discipline strategies and structures into the classroom. Emphasize the powers of intention and love.
• As this initial group of teachers experiences success, allow them to serve as models for their colleagues. When colleagues witness transformation, buy-in will increase schoolwide.

Important Links
• ConsciousDiscipline.com (https://consciousdiscipline.com/)
• Power of Love (Webinar) (https://consciousdiscipline.com/power-of-love/)
• Power of Intention (Webinar) (https://consciousdiscipline.com/power-of-intention/)
• Skill of Positive Intent (https://consciousdiscipline.com/free-resources/book-portal/chapter-9-positive-intent/)
• Greeting Ritual (https://consciousdiscipline.com/free-resources/shubert/sophies-classroom/greeting-ritual/)

Show Outline
:24 What is Conscious Discipline?
0:41 Domestic violence as a worldwide silent epidemic
1:51 Domestic violence statistics
3:05 How domestic violence impacts children
4:49 Introduction of special guest Kelly Frazier-Wawire
6:14 How and why Kelly became interested in Conscious Discipline
8:30 What stood out about Conscious Discipline
9:45 How Kelly began implementing Conscious Discipline in schools in Chicago
12:11 Recognizing children who have experienced trauma and chronic stress
13:54 Success story of transformation in a child who was in crisis
16:32 Importance of teachers changing their perception of misbehavior
18:14 Conscious Discipline as a model of a healthy family
18:46 Success story of a child who had experienced family stress feeling supported by School Family
20:25 Successfully using Conscious Discipline with children who are dissociative
21:37 How small changes can make the biggest difference
22:39 Kelly’s three biggest takeaways
29:38 What’s Becky up to?
30:56 What’s Becky celebrating?

Source: Youtube