Resilience:  Strength in the Face of Trauma

The Result of Trauma

Children who have repeated traumatic experiences often develop defensive or aggressive behaviors and are less trusting of others.  Often, these children have difficulty focusing on learning or building healthy relationships with others because they’re concerned with surviving.

A Trauma-Informed Approach

Using a trauma-informed approach when working with youth and families who have experienced trauma can make the difference in developing positive relationships and supporting youth and their families to reach their work and educational goals.  We know it works, but what is it?

A trauma-informed approach is based on the understanding that repeated traumatic experiences in childhood, especially without the protective effects of a nurturing adult, can negatively impact a child’s brain development and physical, mental, and social behaviors.

By using a trauma-informed approach when working with youth and families, Wisconsin Promise remains aware that:

  • Some youth and their family members have had trauma in their lives.
  • Past traumatic experiences could affect current responses to situations.
  • Our actions could remind youth and family members of past trauma.

Reaching Teens and Families

When a youth or family members acts in a way that we don’t understand or expect, rather than asking “What is wrong with you?”, we ask “What has happened to you?” 

We also provide the supports and resources necessary for youth and their families to develop resilience.  Fostering Futures, an initiative of Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker that seeks to improve child and family well-being through trauma-informed care, states: “When children build up resilience, they learn to adapt to changing situations and maintain a hopeful outlook. They learn to see past stressful situations and pursue a better life.”


First Lady Walker recently spoke with Reyna, a Promise youth, about the progress she’s made toward her work and educational goals with the support of Wisconsin Promise and trauma-informed care.

Reyna commented,  “Now knowing my needs, the steps I can take to help myself. I need to be able to pull myself aside and help collect myself.”


To learn more about Trauma-Informed Care, visit: