Are you in a season of parenting where you feel like pulling all your hair out? Do you look at your child and wonder when the well of anger will ever dry up?
Parenting children with trauma is not for the faint of heart. You may be in a place where you are pouring out so much of yourself and seeing few results. You may feel exhausted and emotionally drained.
I wanted to share a few tips to help you keep perspective on this crazy journey.
The work we are doing is trying to create a secure attachment with our child. This is the best gift we can give to a child who has experienced neglect and trauma. A child with a healthy attachment has the tools they need to regulate stress and make sense of social and emotional information.
This means we are connecting before correcting. We are parenting with tools like “re-do’s” instead of punitive discipline.
When you child has outbursts, rages, meltdowns, and verbal attacks try not to take it personally. Whisper to yourself “this is not really about me.” Your child has a lot of grief to work through. They have so much sadness inside. You are the safe person in front of them to take this all out on.
Try and view your child’s behavior through the lens of trauma. If you need to you can write out their story of what they went through before coming into your care. This can help you parent from a more compassionate place.
As attachment expert Deborah Grays says: “We want to always be choosing the emotional high road. Stay sensitive, kind, nurturing and consistent with your child.”
Remember you may be pouring into your child for a long time before you see any results.
Building attachment with children with trauma is very challenging for securely attached adults. It is a lot of hard work. If you or your spouse seem to constantly being triggered by your child- if it seems there is a major block in your ability to attach to them, you may have an insecure attachment and/or a trauma history.
Sometimes we have trauma in our own past that we are not tuned into. Sometimes events like a divorce, an illness of a parent or rupture in our own care as a child can be a traumatic event. In this case you want to surround yourself with people who help you feel emotionally supported and balanced. You may want to seek the help of a trained therapist.
You have committed to your child for the long road. There are many variables that are out of your control when it comes to how your child develops. What you can control is the quality of care you offer your child.