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.
Early Interventionist Supervisor