Start Early, Grow Stronger

August 21, 2018

You lock eyes and it’s love at first sight! Next… a smile! The bond between a parent and child is created instantly at birth. Trust forms as the child is cared for and their needs are met. Children living in homes where domestic abuse is present experience the effects of and respond to abuse in different ways. If a child experiences a trauma like being exposed to domestic abuse, that bond and trust formed with the parent may be tested and broken.

Rebuilding trust is a process just like any other. As Early Interventionists at Ahead Start, one of our jobs is to help educate parents on ways to foster or re-establish positive parent/child bonds in the home.

Re-establishing trust and the bond between a parent and child can be done by utilizing social/emotional developmental milestones as a guideline. Below are helpful suggestions that can be used for any child (regardless the situation):

  • Give lots of attention to your baby/child – smile, laugh, play
  • Spend time holding/cuddling/hugging your baby/child – this will help your child feel cared for, safe, and secure
  • Pay attention to how your baby/child reacts to new situations/people
  • Provide a safe and loving environment – be consistent and predictable
  • Praise good behavior more than punish bad behavior
  • Explain and model emotions
  • Encourage your child to play with other children – this will teach sharing, the value of relationships, and trust

If your child has recently experienced trauma and is having difficulty trusting or re-establishing a bond with you, our Early Interventionist team at Ahead Start suggests trying some of the bulleted tips above. You can also start by spending a little extra time playing with your child, doing things that they like to do. Add in a few extra hugs and say, “I Love You” as often as you can. Start early, so both you and your child can grow stronger together!

Children who are exposed to domestic abuse deserve our support. In addition to their 24/7 hot line (available at 1.800.291.2139), Safe Harbor provides free and confidential emergency safe shelter, case management, advocacy, counseling, and support for adults who are experiencing (or have experienced) domestic abuse and their children throughout Greenville, Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee counties.

As part of Ahead Start’s commitment to empowering families and helping children, we are proud to support and promote Safe Harbor’s mission and services.

Lindsay Jones

Early Interventionist Supervisor

Ahead Start

I am a survivor of domestic violence.


“I didn’t know that I was being abused...

I am a survivor of domestic violence.


“I didn’t know that I was being abused because my definition of abuse looked different. My husband pushed me, but most of my suffering was verbal and psychological. I left my husband to protect our young daughter. Almost immediately I felt the weight of his oppression begin to lift. I could see a difference in my daughter as well. Then he broke into my home and assaulted me in-front of her.

I sought help and was led to Safe Harbor. My daughter and I are in counseling now. I am sorting out the mess that abuse has caused. I am finding my voice and seeking opportunities to grow and better my life as well as my daughter's. She will gauge her self-worth from my own self-worth. I must show her that she deserves the best, by expecting the best for myself.

Many years I suffered in silence. By telling my story and being honest with friends and family, I am taking control of my life again.”

- Beth

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