- Who is your favorite puppy on the Paw Patrol? Why?
Caregiver Note: This is an opening question to help initiate conversation with your child. While it may be tempting to jump straight into the point it is good to start by connecting your child to the film first before expanding to the character’s experience with an event or scenario and then involving the child in that scenario. This is due to children not developing abstract thinking skills until they are much older so they will need extra guidance to connect their own situations to that of the character and attaching subject matter like emotions to the discussion. The main characters are Chase (Police & Traffic), Sky (Air Rescue & Support), Rubble (Construction), Marshall (Fire Rescue & Medic), Rocky (Eco/Recycling Support), and Zuma (Water Rescue).
- Activity: Draw Your Favorite Pup
Caregiver Note: This activity will be pretty easy to set up and will help give your child something to do with their hands while you talk. Children, especially younger children) struggle with face to face conversation and find talking about hard things easier when their hands are busy while engaging with side-to-side conversation. Grab some paper and your preferred coloring tool and help your child draw their favorite rescue pup and color them. Also draw your favorite so you can both participate and enjoy spending time together.
- Why did Chase not want to go back to Adventure City?
Caregiver Note: Poor Chase makes it very clear from the get-go that going to Adventure City is the last thing he wants to do. Chase was previously abandoned as a very young puppy and left to wander the streets alone. Being dropped off at an unknown place with no tools or support is certainly terrifying and it is completely understandable that Chase (who is still a puppy in the series) would not want to revisit such painful memories.
- What seemed to help Chase when he was afraid or hurting while working in Adventure City?
Caregiver Note: Chase very much benefitted from his teammates watching his body language for when he needed support, giving him space when he needed it to process how he felt, checking on him when he seemed down, and never giving up on him. In the same way children that have been through hard things may also need similar responses when they act out in anger, frustration, sadness, and pain like Chase. The caring attitude of his teammates is also very important. At any time they could have fussed at Chase for making their work harder but they were always most focused on his well being and needs. This can be hard, especially in stressful situations, but it is equally important for caregivers to be well attuned with their own feelings and behaviors so they can ensure they can stay calm while attempting to calm their child in crisis.
- Why didn’t Chase just tell the team he was afraid from the beginning? Why did he run away instead of asking for help?
Caregiver Note: Like Chase, children who have been through trauma often learn that people are unreliable and they need to rely on themselves more so than their peers. While this can be very confusing for caregivers this makes sense when we realize that most adults were a source of insecurity and danger in the past for children who have been in the foster or adoptive systems. Showing vulnerability is hard for most human beings but for children who have been rejected or shamed for showing weakness before this sense of over-independence and competence is a survival skill that helped your child make it to this point so this will be very difficult to unlearn and learn new communication skills to use instead. For this reason caregivers will often need to check in and initiate discussions about hard things with their child to teach them how to check in and voice their needs.
- Have you had a time like Chase where it was hard to ask for help?
Caregiver Note: Give your child the space here to guide the conversation. Caregivers should also be prepared for if the child brings up a time where you, the adult, perhaps were a part of the barrier. It will be easy to want to excuse or explain why you acted in such a way but it is most important now to listen to your child. You are giving them the chance to practice using language to identify struggles and together you and the child can find a solution. Rather than seeing this as a critique of your personality or parenting skills, take this as an opportunity to learn how your child perceives your communication and perhaps improve in areas that can support you and your child’s relationship.
- How can I help you when it is hard for you to ask? What signals can I watch for?
Caregiver Note: Again, allow your child to lead this part of the conversation. Talk about giving a hand signal that can be code for “help!” or perhaps making a list of things your child may do (behavior) to watch for when your child is growing overwhelmed and words are becoming too hard. Then, create a “rescue plan” for how you can swoop in and help your child find a place of calm to allow words to flow more easily. It is important to help a child reach calm before learning or practicing new skills due to their brain being so busy with fight-or-flight responses due to cortisol and adrenaline release when under stress. Once a child is calm, they will be able to better use their prefrontal cortex to engage in language and regulation skills due to the limbic system being calmed down.
- Activity: Reframe!
Caregiver Note: This is another activity to do while keeping your child engaged in the conversation. Grab a piece of paper and help your child draw a picture frame around the border on each side of the page (front and back). On one side draw Chase as a puppy being alone and sad in Adventure City. On the other side, draw Chase as a puppy meeting Ryder and how happy they are together. This will help connect your child to how the same event and memory can have more than one feeling and how it is very normal to have both positive and negative connections to the same memory.
- When Chase talks about Adventure City why does he remember more of the sad parts?Caregiver Note: Sad and Angry are big, intense emotions. Especially since Chase started this memory with the tone of abandonment it is very easy for these to be the first emotions he registered with these memories. However, over time and giving space to feel these big emotions, Chase was later able to make room for the happier ending in the end and still honor all of those emotions together. This is very important for a caregiver to remember as well. Your child may be very happy to be with you and love you very much. However, like Chase, there are going to be times where the memories surrounding why they are with you in a foster/adoptive/kinship situation may overshadow those feelings and need a safe space to process them.
- Has there been a time where you felt both sad and happy about a memory like Chase?Caregiver Note: Allow your child to talk through this point to their comfort level. Some children may not be ready yet to connect such big emotions like this, and that’s perfectly okay. These are discussions that can happen many times as your child grows and develops, but you will always have Chase’s experiences to return to as examples in the future.
NOTE: Inclusion on these lists does not necessarily mean endorsement. Furthermore, with all our resources, we highly recommend you preview them first to determine if there are any trauma triggers that your child may not be ready to handle. Transfiguring Adoption does not intend for its reviewers nor its reviews to be professional, medical or legal advice. These reviews and discussion guides are intended to help parents to better be able to connect and understand their children who come from traumatic backgrounds.