Workshops to discuss childhood adversity, how kids react, and working through it

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By Correne Martin

On April 30, in Prairie du Chien, there will be three workshop opportunities for the public to examine the effects of adversity on child development and behavior, and how to build resiliency to offset potential adversity. 

Children’s Justice Support Coordinator Peter Daniels, who works in human services for Crawford and Vernon counties, will offer the free, one-hour ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) seminars at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. in room 236 of the Crawford County Administration Building. Daniels works with all the schools in both his assigned counties and can lead teacher trainings, but this is the first occasion available to the general public. 

The simple, introductory sessions April 30 are meant for parents, grandparents and guardians with school-aged children, but anyone from the community is welcome. The discussion will focus on acute traumas, or one-time events, and how they have an impact on a child’s “fight, flight or freeze” response. Such events might include separation or divorce, a major flood or house fire, a serious car accident, unexpected death, living with someone who uses drugs and alcohol or is diagnosed with mental illness.

“If their bodies respond as if something is dangerous all the time, it can really impact their behavior,” Daniels explained. 

Having studied and become certified in ACEs training in 2016 in Milwaukee, Daniels said the knowledge and understanding of the concept has changed his life, personally, because of some of the experiences he lived through as a child and even as an adult. “I learned why I react to things a certain way,” he said. 

Once Daniels provides workshop attendees with a basis on the how and why behind ACEs, he will provide examples and tips on how children and families can regulate their reactions and work through them.

“Especially working with students, it’s less thinking and talking, and more doing, like the rhythmic bouncing of a ball or walking,” he shared. 

Daniels is also a former teacher and social worker, so he will bring his experiences from those backgrounds into the workshops. “This is a passion that’s become a livelihood for me,” he stated. 

Attendees can expect some power point slides, a video and discussion, but also some interactive activities and packets of information to take home. 

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