How to work through trauma with young children podcast header

Revisited: How to work through trauma with young children [Podcast]

This week on The Preschool Podcast, we are excited to be revisiting an episode with Holly-Elissa Bruno! Holly-Elissa Bruno is the author of the book Happiness is Running Through the Streets to Find You, which is all about supporting traumatized children. She shares practical tips on how to talk to children about the feelings that come with traumatic experiences and how to build trust in an authentic way.

58% of people have had a traumatic childhood.”

Dealing with trauma in the childcare classroom

As educators, children look at us to see ‘how do I learn to live my life?’. They are always watching us. We need to model for children the most healing and loving way to deal with difficulties. Most people have some kind of sadness and pain in their lives and are taught to run away from it and not talk about it. As humans, we need to be seen and heard.

Difficulties we have as children can affect the rest of our lives as trauma can be the most vigorous guide. Some of the most difficult things to face can turn into the most beautiful. We can help children by being authentic and showing them how to feel. We have to make them feel safe and remain consistent.

If children do not feel safe, they cannot learn

When our brains are threatened, we become survivors. A child who is traumatized becomes an adult who only knows how to survive. We need to teach children to stop, breathe, and ask for help. Remind them and role model to them that they have strength.

As educators, we have to learn everything we can about trauma and children who have been traumatized. We can learn how to recognize a child’s triggers so we can step in beforehand and help them learn to manage their own trauma. We also have to take care of ourselves and what trauma we have experienced to turn it into learning for the child.

One thing that can immediately get us out of going downhill and reliving trauma is having a sense of humor. It is important to be present with the children and keep things safe and light.

Podcast episode transcript:

Ron SPREEUWENBERG: 

Holly, welcome to the Preschool Podcast!

BRUNO:

Hey, thanks! It’s good to talk with you again, Ron.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, it’s been a while since we had you on the show, way back in 2017, which sounds like and feels like an eternity ago. We talked about the power of emotional intelligence and we’re delighted to have you back on the show today.

For our listeners, we have Holly Elissa Bruno. She’s a bestselling, award-winning author, international keynoter, former assistant attorney general of Maine, was Dean of Faculty at the University of Maine [at] Augusta, where she was also selected as Outstanding Professor of the Year. There’s a good chance you’ve heard about Holly, you’ve seen her speak or you’ve met her because she’s very involved in early-childhood education. So, awesome to have you back, Holly!

BRUNO:

Thanks so much. I’m excited about this, Ron, let’s roll!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Cool! Yeah, me too. So, we’re going to talk today about, since everybody probably knows who you are in one way, shape or form, let’s jump into it because we have a lot to talk about and it’s really important.

And we’re going to talk a bit about traumatic situations and the impact of trauma and what that means. And let’s start off, I guess, learning about why you’ve decided to dive into this. There’s so many important subjects in early-childhood education, including this one. Why did you choose to dive deeper into this important subject?

BRUNO:

So, Ron, the truth is I had to write this book. And I had to write this book because every time I would work with early-childhood professionals, I would realize that many of us – in fact the majority of us – have challenges with our own experience with trauma. What I mean by that is in the United States, for example, a very conservative study says that 58% of us had a traumatic childhood.

And anecdotally, Ron, when I go around the country, and even around the world, I say to people, “Okay, at your tables, what percentage of you, if you’re willing to share – and we’ll keep this confidential about individuals – but what percentage of you has faced trauma when you were a child?” And uniformly, the minimal response I get is 75%. It’s usually 90%.

So, here’s the deal: I had to write this book because we are the children’s curriculum. Children look at us to see, “How do I learn to live my life?” They’re always watching us. And I, as an early-childhood professional, need to model for children the most authentic, the most healing, the most loving way to deal with difficulties.

And Point Two, Ron, I’ll make really briefly, is even if you as an early-childhood professional didn’t experience trauma as I did, still, working with children who are traumatized, that is going to perhaps – in fact, likely – affect you and perhaps traumatize you.

Right now we’re talking about the [COVID-19 virus] pandemic. There are numbers of us in early-childhood, for example, who survived other difficult pandemics like the AIDS epidemic. I’m 74 and so when I was in first grade, my best friend got polio. The polio epidemic was around and she died. And no one explained that to me. And I grieved for years.

And so what I’m trying to say here, Ron, is [that] the book had to be written because I realized [that] for us in early-childhood [education] to do our best by children, we need to do our best by ourselves, which means to look at, “What do we model and what do we learn from the difficult times in our lives?” Rather than running away from difficult times, turn around, face the feelings, ask for help, and get the help, use the help. Hold people accountable but don’t blame them.

And then use all of that learning and all of that gentleness with ourselves to be gentle with the child who’s saying things like… and this was very sad, a child who said to his teacher, “Teacher, you have a knife in your brain just like I do, don’t you?” And that teacher, instead of freaking out and saying, “Oh my god, this child’s a mess! I’ve got to get some help here, I’ve got to label the child!” Not that anyone would do that but emotionally, we might think, “Oh my god!”

What that teacher did was sat with the child. And she said to him, “I do, thank you. I do have a headache today. And I am quite sad because my mother is failing in health. And I appreciate your noticing that. And I really want to hear, how are you doing? You said you have a knife in your brain, too?”

And the little boy then began to talk about how his parents were arguing all the time and they were… he didn’t feel safe at home and he didn’t know if he was going to have a family together anymore. And that beautiful openness, rather than judgmentalism, helped that child get through a very traumatizing time. And that’s… there are lots of reasons why it was time for this book to be written.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

And so just now you’ve mentioned, “Be open minded.” You mentioned also a concept of running away in these types of situations and scenarios. What role do you think this subject of child abuse, neglect and trauma being a taboo subject that people are afraid to talk about or don’t want to talk about plays in us helping to rectify these situations in working with these children and thinking about the healing aspect?

BRUNO:

Thanks for that question, Ron. The reason I wrote my book, which actually just came out – it’s called Happiness is Running Through the Streets to Find You. The second title is Translating Trauma’s Harsh Legacy into Healing.

Here’s what I’ve experienced in my own life as a survivor of incest, as a survivor of violence, as a survivor of being raised by a mother who had mental illness: I was taught to look as if I were from the perfect family. And he truth is, I have two older siblings and when you put us together, we’ve got two PHD’s; two JD’s [juris doctor] law degrees; one of us became a medical doctor; we’ve got three masters degrees. We looked to the world as if we were the perfect family but inside we suffered.

And what I have come to work through in my 74 years on Earth, Ron, is this: most people have some kind of sadness and pain in their lives. And most of us are taught to stiff upper lip it. And most of us are taught to disassociate, which means to run away from the feelings emotionally or not to talk about those things.

The truth is, after the ACEs [Adverse Childhood Experiences] study came out in the United States and said that trauma – those difficulties we have as children – will affect our health the rest of our life, we couldn’t stay in denial about it. For example, a child who has parents going through a divorce, that’s traumatizing. A child who has a parent with mental illness, which is a significant number of us, that’s traumatizing.

So, here’s the bottom line: I wrote my book because I want to tell people that for me – and I’m going to just read the quote because this is a truth for me – “trauma is my most vigorous guide. Trauma is an unchosen but compelling pathway to a life of meaning, an uplifting appreciation of beauty and a deeply anchored conviction to make the world better for each child.”

So my conclusion, Ron, to answer your question, is some of the most difficult things to face are the most liberating. “We are the most spiritual,” says Henri Nouwen, “where we are the most broken.” We can help children by being authentic, not because I’m pretending everything’s fine, but because I feel and I understand and I have experienced how scary this is. And I have gotten help. And therefore I can be present with you.

And honestly, the two most important things a child needs is to be loved for who [they are] and listened to and heard for who [they are]. And when I interviewed one of the doctors who worked on the ACEs study, Dr. John Medina, I said to him, “So, John, what is the one most important thing we in early-childhood can do with the children as a result of acknowledging that all this trauma, all this abuse, neglect exists?” And I thought he would say, “Love.” What would you think he would say, Ron?

SPREEUWENBERG: 

From what you’re telling me now, talking about it, I guess sort of communication and authenticity in that sounds to be really important.

BRUNO:

It is really the important thing. And yet here is what comes before that and it was a learning to me, Ron: Dr. John Medina said – and he didn’t think twice, I just heard his voice strongly say in answer to my question, what’s the most important thing we need to provide to these children – Ron, his response was,” Safety. Safety.”

And the truth is if children don’t feel safe with us their brains are jammed; they can’t learn. If adults don’t feel safe with us, they can’t trust us. And so if in a classroom, and inevitably in a classroom we’ve got some children who are responding one way or another to trauma, as Dr. John Bradshaw said, we’ve got to watch out for the perfect children. These are the people pleasers. We’ve got to watch out for the child that crying for help by hurting another child. We’ve got to watch out for the child who is invisible.

We all know now, thanks to the trauma research, that this response our brain has trauma and to threat isn’t just, as Freud said, fight or flight. And in early-childhood we pretty much flee, not run away from the trouble, but just don’t want to… oh, we don’t want to see it. It’s so painful.

And some of us, yes, some of us will stand up and fight – I don’t mean to say we’re not fighters. But in general, our response to difficult situations is to be gentle, loving and kind. And that’s beautiful.

But the other two responses we have to trauma are now articulated as “freezing”, which is that deer-in-the-headlights response, like, “Oh my god, this couldn’t have happened, this couldn’t have happened!” We get so frozen that the primitive, autonomic part of our brain takes over and we can’t think straight. It’s like an animal being pursued drains all the blood out of itself, including the blood drained from the executive function of the brain, for humans.

And what happens then is the predator walks on by because a predator doesn’t want to attack something that may already be dead. And the worst to me that I’ve seen a lot with little children, as well as adults, is the fourth response to trauma is “fawning”. Fawning is like people pleasing; fawning is like the Stockholm Syndrome.

It’s like in the concentration camps when people were just so terribly abused and made inhuman. When that happened, some of the people decided – I don’t know if they decided or if it was just what they had to do – they connected with the guards as much as they could because that might keep them safe.

When our brains are threatened, which is what happens to children who are traumatized, we survive; we become survivors. And the problem is, Ron, a child who is traumatized becomes an adult who only knows how to survive. We don’t know how to live. And given that these responses – fight, flight, freeze or fawn – are the only things available to us.

Without help I wouldn’t have known, for example, that I don’t have to stay afraid of someone who’s, like, a narcissist. I have all kinds of steps I can take: reaching out for help; talking with a counselor; going to a support group; breathing; just stopping in the moment to say, “I need help, I need help;” stopping in the moment to say, “I need to think about what we’re talking about. I’m going to get back to you tomorrow morning;” stopping in the moment to remind myself I have strength.

All of those things, honestly, Ron, children are watching us and saying, “What’s Ms. Holly doing? She looks like… there’s one child that just hit another child. What’s Ms. Holly doing? Is she angry? Is she upset? Or is Ms. Holly able somehow to help the child that’s hurt and also help the child that’s hurting who hurt the child?” And isn’t that a remarkable lesson?

SPREEUWENBERG: 

So, let’s take that a step further. And if I’m a teacher educator listening to this podcast, this is really powerful and insightful information. How can I help? How can I translate this powerful information into as practical or pragmatic sort of steps as possible for how I can work with children that might be living through traumatic experiences at home or have recently? How can I go about doing that in the classroom, day-to-day?

BRUNO:

Okay, that’s a great question, Ron. And I would look at that in terms of two pathways. And the pathways are all to helping that child through. And here are the two pathways I feel we have to take: One is to learn everything we can about trauma, about children who are traumatized. And fortunately, there’s a lot of [what] is called “trauma-informed help and assistance” available. So, we can learn about that and learn, for example, to recognize, what are the triggers that are triggering a child? What are the… well, let’s just go there. We’ll be very practical at all about that.

But before we go to that, let me say, the second pathway I need to take is to take care of myself. And it’s not just self-care, Ron, it’s to take a look at what I have experienced in terms of trauma and turn that into gold for the child.

So, here’s a practical thing: Supposing I understand that a child who appears to be traumatized, I don’t have all that data, but the child is prone toward biting, kicking, hitting other children. I develop a relationship with that child and, if possible, with the child’s family so that we together can have a preventative way when that child starts to get tense. And I can feel it; the child feels it. How can we intervene in that moment when the child just is beginning to get tense?

Now, for some children, they have a flash point; it just goes boom. So, if I am aware or my teacher’s aide is aware that, “Look, when Justin starts to quiver a little bit or Justin starts to beat his foot or Justin gives me a look, that’s the absolute time to get out the manipulable… maybe a ball or something to squeeze.”

Or another thing is, I knew a teacher that said she found out from working with a family member that the child would calm down if everybody just sang, “you are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” And so that teacher’s aide would say, “Hey, everybody, in this small group, let’s sing!” And that would help.

So, what I’m trying to say here, Ron, is, know each child, know about trauma and step in when possible, when the child is about to be triggered so that the child doesn’t get into the full-blown awfulness. And what we’re doing then is helping a child learn to manage [their] own trauma by saying, “I don’t have to lose control,” because that’s what the child fears. “I can, in fact, take certain steps to ask for help.”

And the biggest thing that happens with traumatized people is we isolate; we blame ourselves. We say we must be bad people or bad things wouldn’t have happened to us. So, if we can learn to connect early on with other people and ask for help and get help and be seen and be heard, that’s so powerful. That is just so powerful.

And in my book I write about what happens with children who observe trauma. I observed a horribly sad situation where my father lost his temper and took off after the family pet that I was holding. He took off after that pet with a hatchet in his hand. And I froze and I was terrified.

And the only way I could explain that to myself, Ron, was to say, “I did something wrong. Why else would my father is, in whose trust I count, why else would my father take off after that cat to not just harm it [but] to annihilate it?” And here’s the truth: If a child, a young child, blames [themselves], [they feel they have] some control, some control over what’s going on.

And here’s the truth again, but let’s take a look at the second pathway: The other thing in the classroom that a teacher can do is pay attention to [themselves]. I often call it “just watching myself”. It’s not as if I’m being critical of myself – that I learned very well. It’s as if when I am with children, when I’m with adults who are suffering, I need to pay attention to what is happening inside of me, not to judge myself, not to be critical of myself, but to say, “You know what? Right now I’m getting scared. And when I’m getting scared, what are some things I can do?”

And so one of the things I can do is to reach out to my team teacher and let him or her know. Another thing I can do in that moment is to say, “Okay, sweetie, it’s time to do what we’ve taught the children to do, which is, let’s do some meditation; let’s do some breathing; let’s do some relaxation.”

And here’s what happens in the brain: our brain can move from the “amygdala hijack”, which drains our brain of the fuel it needs, the blood flow to be able to act wisely. If we can just take one step back with the child to help the child, like, squeeze that manipulable that helps that child get her anger out or inside myself when I’m getting short of breath and I can say, “Just breathe,” that one conscious step moves us from the autonomic system, which can take us over, or right into the executive function.

And I want to say one other thing that will help the classroom teachers: guys, you all have a sense of humour – you wouldn’t be in this field if you didn’t have it. And the one thing that can immediately get us out of going downhill into trauma and reliving the trauma for the child or the adult is to have a sense of humor.

And my son – I love my son, he’s an adult now – when he was a child, he was all kinds of labels. He was developmentally delayed; he had lots and lots of challenges. And I used to sit beside him on the floor and we’d be doing something together. And Nick’s small motor control took a long time for him to develop. And he’d dropped something [or] he couldn’t put something together.

And he taught something so powerful: He taught me to say, “Silly me, silly me.” [If] he couldn’t do it, it wasn’t “I’m awful,” or, “What’s wrong with me?” Which is what I heard: “Can’t you do anything right? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” No, my son said, “Silly me.”

And my son didn’t come from Korea until he was 10 months old. And for the first six weeks of his life, we don’t know who his parents were, nor do we know what his experience was like for the first six weeks of his life. So, that’s traumatic in itself, being left, coming all the way across the Pacific into a new life. And here’s my son saying, as a little child, “Silly me.”

And that’s what the teacher in the classroom can do, Ron. [They] can say, “Silly me, I got all these kids jumping around at once. How could I do it all? Well, I can’t. So, what I can do inside myself is to breathe, ask for help, pay attention to the child who particularly needs my help, ask for other people to step in. Or you know what, if I’m in the infant room and all the babies start crying at once, honey, I can start singing.”

And I’ve talked with assistant room teachers and that’s what they do – they start singing and then the whole classroom can pick up. So, yeah, does what I said answer your question well enough, Ron?

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, totally. And I think our equivalent of “silly me” at home with our little guy is, “Oopsy daisy!” You know what really stood out to me, though, about these two pathways that you talked about in terms of what you can do as a teacher in the classroom when it comes to dealing with trauma is, you didn’t really lay out really specific steps to say, “Step one, you do this, step to do that.”

It’s not a super prescriptive thing. It’s more about, first of all, learning – so important in early-childhood education that you take the time as a professional to learn about trauma. And then secondly, a lot of it comes from within, like you said, taking any trauma you’ve experienced in your own life so that you can relate to children and using that experience to talk about things in an authentic way, which just really resonated with me. Because to me, it just really says to all the educators out there that you are professionals. And these are things that are complicated problems that you can’t just read a recipe [or a] sort of like checkbox type list to figure out how to deal with.

BRUNO:

You know, Ron, I think that’s profound, what you just said, because the approach to trauma-informed care is very much a checklist. And in terms of educating myself, I’ll read those checklists; I’ll pay attention to those.

However, what matters is how authentically and emotionally and spiritually I feel prepared in the moment to be with a child because the moment with a child where I can be loving as opposed to fear-based, where I can be present as opposed to dissociating and running away from the situation, where I can be able to see the child, in that moment that’s what that child is going to remember.

It’s not a checklist, although the checklist helps me prepare. It’s, “What can I do in the moment to be as true and as loving as I can?” I talk about being either fear-based or hope-based. And when I’m fear-based, I’m cleaning everything up; I’m making sure everything is straight in the room. And that’s important, that’s important.

But more importantly is, “When am I love-based? When am I love-based?” And what I mean by that is, “When can I be this child as a person who is unfolding [and] may become who [they are] meant to be? And in that moment, can I bring my authentic self, just like that teacher did, who said, “Yes, I have a headache. Thank you for noticing that.”

Oh, here’s one other situation that teachers face, Ron, it was a very sad, painful: A new child in in a classroom. And the new child… and this classroom was for children that didn’t have… their family didn’t have the financial means but the classroom was there for them. And they deserved every bit as much care, attention and education as any other child.

And so this teacher got close to the child and said, “Hi, I’m Mila. And what’s your name?” And Ron, the child said, “I’m nobody.” And the teacher said, “Well, you know, I’m really glad you’re in my class. And I’m so excited we get to have this afternoon together. What would you like me to call you? If you don’t feel like you have a name, what would you choose? What would you want me to call you?” And he said again, “I’m nobody. I’m nobody.”

In that moment, how can the teacher’s heart not break? In that moment, how can that child not be expecting help? Because the child whose heart is breaking is saying, “No one has seen me; no one has loved me; no one has cared about me. Are you going to be any different?” And what that teacher chooses to do in that moment will make all the difference to that child.

And so I would ask you, Ron, what would you do? And everybody listening, what would you do with that child? This is a true story. Who would you do with a child who said, “I’m nobody”?

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Again, as somebody who’s not trained and educated as an early-childhood educator, I’m just going to throw my best guess, which is, for me, the first thing that came to my mind was just persistence. Never, never give up on continuing to work with that child, to bring up their self-esteem and their confidence and sense of self and what they could be and how special they are. That’s what came to my head right away.

BRUNO:

And that’s it. I mean, that’s a crucial part of trauma recovery, Ron, is to provide the child with safety, as we said before, but also provide the child with consistency. Because one of the truths about living in trauma is that it’s chaotic. The child becomes authority counter-dependent, which, as you know, means the child doesn’t trust authority figures.

The teacher’s that authority figure – “How can I trust you, Teacher, if the other adults in my life hit me? Or the other adults in my life come through the door [and say] Hi and I don’t know who they are? Or the other adults in my life leave me alone by myself at night? How can I trust you?”

So, the process, the first thing I need in the classroom as a teacher is to help that child feel safe. And the second thing is slowly, like you said – slowly, slowly, slowly – to be consistently loving toward that child, to be understanding toward that child. So, when the child does something, as my son would do, he had ODD – oppositional defiant disorder – where he would do something to get under my skin because he was really good at that.

And why was he really good at that? It wasn’t because it was a bad kid. It’s because he wanted to be seen. And if he could use something negative to touch me, he would. Today my son is 36 [years old]. We have the most loving relationship because, just like you said, over and over and over again, with persistence, I told him I loved him. And I told him not just with words – I told him with my heart. “I’m here for you and I love you. And I see you as beautiful. You are beautiful to me.”

And when other kids started bullying him and picking on him, again, what teachers do every day, our challenge is not could be the person that saves the child, but to help to learn how to save [themselves]. And so the little guy who says, “I’m nobody,” be beside that child; be with that child; play with a child; help the child play. “What would you like to name this doll?” “Oh, she’s nobody.” “Okay, well, let’s tell our family of nobodies! So, is this Jane Nobody?”

And not making fun at all, just meeting the child where she [or she] is accepting that if I have an expectation that this child is going to be a certain way, that’s resentment waiting to happen. If instead I greet each child as a person who’s unfolding and she [or he] might be in a state of unfolding where she’s prickly and my job is to be with her, it’s kind of like as she unfolds…

There’s a painting I once saw called “Nude Descending a Staircase” [by Marcel Duchamp]. And if you know it, it’s a curious painting because it’s a frozen image but it’s of each step that this being, this person takes walking down the stairway. And that’s about being a teacher. As I look at a child in the moment, someone who’s saying, “You have a knife in your brain,” or a child who’s saying, “I’m nobody,” I want my heart open to that child and say, “In this moment, this baby’s hurting. How can I love this child and help this child learn eventually to love [themselves] through a very difficult time?”

And I’ll say this last thing, Ron. In my book I write about this: My friends were going off to first grade and I wasn’t old enough. I was four [years old] – the United States you had to be five. So, I took my mother, who had mental illness, and I took her down to the school. And she didn’t say anything; she just sat there.

And I said to the principal, “I’m ready to go to first grade.” And she looked me up and said, No, you won’t; you can’t. Here’s the rule and you can’t do that.” And I said, “But all my friends are going.” And she said, “It doesn’t matter. You have to be five.” And then I said, “You know, I can do all the things that [my friends] can do. And sometimes I can do them faster. And so I think I’m ready.”

And I just stood there as a little four-year-old child, persisting. And finally, when I said to her, “Here, you want to learn,” something changed in her. And she said, very strictly, “I’ll give you six weeks. And if you can’t keep up, I don’t want to see you here for another year.”

And what was going on there, what was going on was that I had to escape being in a house alone with a mother who would go into states of psychosis. And I was my mother’s caregiver. I’m telling you, and you probably know this, that many children care for somebody who’s not doing well at home, either an addict or person with mental illness.

And here is the point: When a few years later I walked into a classroom and that elementary school teacher, whose name was Michael, saw me, he’s the first person that ever saw me and was the first person that was to say to me at the end of my time with him, he said, “Holly Elissa, you’re a very special little girl and someday you will make a difference.”

And no one on Earth had ever seen me [or] paid attention to me. They couldn’t – they were ill – to me before. And I took that like the Statue of Liberty and United States holds the flame. And I took that flame and just held it close to my heart for the rest of my life. I dedicated one of my books to him.

So, my point is children are hurting, even the ones that are perfect and are people-pleasing. They are hurting. All children hurt at some point. What I need to do is be present in that moment to the child. I know, teachers, you’ve got a thousand things to do. And I know you get tired and I know you get weary. In that moment, the love that you can give to the child that’s hurting will be giving love to you.

What the research says is, “If I do one kind act for somebody, I am the one who also benefits.” So, in that moment, when your buttons are getting pushed, sure, ask for help; sure, ask for other people to intervene. But remember, in that moment, as you love that child and accept that child and see that child as special, you are saying to yourself, “Whatever you’ve been through, whatever pain you’ve had can help you in that moment be loving and gentle and accepting and helpful for that child.” And as you do that for the child you do that for yourself.

And everybody in the classroom, we know that our heartbeat communicates up to five feet away from us. This goes back to our conversation three years ago about emotional intelligence – we communicate nonverbally all the time. And if I’m with a child, able to be calm with a child, loving with a child, have a sense of humor with a child or get angry for the moment and then say, “Silly me. I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” in that moment, my heartbeat is communicating to people within five to 10 feet of me, “You’re okay, I’m okay. I love you and it’s going to be okay.”

Or, my heartbeat at the same time, if I’m fear-based rather than love-based can say, “You better be scared of me because I’m angry now.” And children pick that up literally in a heartbeat – the Institute for HeartMath talks about this.

So, what I’m say here is even if I can’t find the words, if I can find a love inside myself  and it’s there, that’s what the children will remember. That’s what I’ll remember at the end of the day:  “You know what? I want to just have a drink. I want my dog to love. But you know what? I did the best I could. And that meant I chose to base myself in love rather than fear.”

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Yeah, and I’ve heard of those kinds of stories before. And as an educator, a teacher, to have that type of an impact on somebody’s life, like in your life, is just… that’s why they we’re doing this, right? So, I don’t think we could end on a better note than that.

This has been a super-engaging conversation but I do want to make sure we at least direct our listeners to where they can get more information about your books, your new book, as well as if they’d like to get in touch with you to learn more about yourself and your work.

BRUNO:

Thanks, Ron. And I want to end by saying that I love to ask teachers, “Who was the teacher that saw you? Who was the teacher that was there for you? Who was your Michael?” And everybody’s got one of those people, what most of us base our teaching on that person’s way of being with us.

And so, yes, let me say that my book is entitled Happiness is Running Through the Streets to Find You: Translating Trauma’s Harsh Legacy Into Healing. It is available from www.ExchangePress.com [redirects to www.ChildcareExchange.com]. And if you go to www.ExchangePress.com/Happiness [redirects to https://www.childcareexchange.com/catalog/product/happiness-is-running-through-the-streets-to-find-you/3600578/] you will be able to purchase the book. It is only available from Exchange because Exchange is a nonprofit [group]. And I’d like the money to go to this nonprofit. So, it’s not on Amazon yet.

The other thing I love to do it is, every time I speak, I have people get in touch because, honestly, we’re all going through this together and we can help each other. And so, yes, get in touch with me by going to my website. It’s simply www.HollyElissaBruno.com. And as you’re looking at the screen, I’m sure my full name will be spelled up there.

And get in touch with me, I do respond. I care very much about you, the person listening, because you are making a difference in each child’s life. So, I would like to support you making a difference in your own life, as well.

SPREEUWENBERG: 

Awesome. Thank you both for being so open with our audience. You talk a lot about the words “truth” and “authenticity”. And you yourself live that. And it’s amazing to see all the work that you’ve done to contribute to early childhood. So, thank you for that. And this has been a phenomenal, phenomenal conversation. And it’s inspired me and I hope it’s inspired everybody who’s listening to the Podcast today. Thank you so much, Holly Elissa, for joining us!

BRUNO:

Ron, thank you. And give her a hug to your little guy! Bye bye!

SPREEUWENBERG: 

I will! Bye!

Christie White

Christie is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at HiMama. She is passionate about children's development, parenting, and supporting the child care industry. She has been working to support child care centers with their events and marketing for almost a decade. In her personal life, Christie lives in Stouffville, ON with her husband Kyle and dog Tucker. She enjoys going for walks, baking, cooking, and watching reality tv!

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