Trauma Informed Parenting

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If you’ve been following my blog last month, you already know that I dedicated all of my posts to educating parents on trauma in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. You’ve learned some vital information about how trauma affects children, how boys are affected by sexual abuse, and how to spot a child predator. Today, I’m providing some information for how to parent children who have been traumatized.

They need rules and structure.

A lot of parents assume that they have to walk on eggshells around their children after something bad happens. This isn’t true and can actually fuel some negative behaviors that may pop up during or after trauma. A child who has been traumatized needs to have order and structure. They need rules and routines. Rules can actually help a child feel safe even though they might actively try and push the boundaries. Throwing rules out the window after a child experiences a trauma may actually amplify the internal chaos they are already feeling. 

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Behavioral consequences.

You might have a child that was difficult before experiencing some sort of trauma; however, a lot of children will start having behavioral issues after experiencing a trauma. Some children will act out to see how you respond. For example, a child who has been physically abused might try and push your buttons to see if you will hurt them. Some kids who have been traumatized will recognize that you are letting them get away with more things after they’ve been traumatized and might use it to their advantage. 

Regardless of your situation, you have to hold your child accountable for his or her actions. If you start to let your child get away with misbehaviors you’ll start to notice in increase in those problematic behaviors. A traumatized child needsdiscipline. They may already feel “different” and treating them as such will only validate those feelings. 

Patience and understanding.

Parenting is hard enough but can become even more complicated when you have a child that has been traumatized. Your child has gone through something that has compromised his or her sense of safety and security. As a result, you may see some major changes that are worrisome or extra challenging.

It may be a while before your child is back to “normal.” You may notice that your child becomes withdrawn or anxious. They may be angry and taking it out on you. They could start throwing major tantrums or become upset at the drop of a hat. Try and remember that this is temporary and practice some self-care. Continue to discipline as normal but try and understand where your child is coming from. Your child may not have the tools necessary to process what happened. As a result, the discomfort they’re feeling on the inside might show it’s face on the outside via these behaviors.

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Love and reassurance.

Some days are going to be extra hard. You may not know how to respond to your child or have all the answers. The best thing you can do in this situation is show your child that you love them – even when they misbehave. Let your child know that you will be there for them no matter what. Try and keep your cool the best you can. Remind yourself that everything passes in time. Though your child may be hurting now, it’s not going to last forever.

Do you or someone you know have a child who has experienced trauma? If you need help learning how to parent a traumatized child check out Parent Coaching Services with Leanne Pilgrim. Click here to schedule your FREE consultation!