7 Powerful P’s for Trauma Parenting
7 powerful practices to remember in parenting a child impacted by trauma
Parenting children impacted by trauma usually requires methods that aren’t traditional, and not all of them will come naturally to most of us. These “P’s” are also important for normal parenting but are even more crucial in trauma parenting:
There is incredible power in a promise.
When a promise is kept trust is built. When a promise is broken, so is trust.
Children coming from difficult pasts have usually experienced more than their fair share of broken promises. It hurts when someone you love doesn’t keep their word. Even something as “simple” as canceling a planned fishing trip, missing a scheduled phone call, or backing out on that promised bike ride can cause a severe breach of trust and a wounding of the soul.
It doesn’t matter how big or small, a promise is still a promise, and often, what is small to an adult is enormous in a child’s perspective.
Breaking a promise also breaks trust which contributes to a broken relationship.
Therefore, keeping your promises will be critical for building and maintaining trust in your relationship with your child. Trust is a key foundation in any relationship but is essential when a child has already developed trust issues from past experiences.
Weigh your words and ability to follow through carefully before promises are made. If there is even a small chance you will need to break your word, don’t make the promise. If you do make a promise, do everything in your power to keep it.
Making an intentional decision to be fully present when you’re with your child will provide security and facilitate bonding. Being fully present to our children has become increasingly difficult with all of our smartphones and social media distractions. If we are constantly on our phones and only half listening, our kids know. Of course, there are times we have to be doing other things, but we need to be incredibly intentional about making focused, undistracted time together a priority.
Being fully present means not only listening with your ears but also making direct eye-contact when your child is talking. In doing this, both parents and children will feel more connected and focused. Connecting in this way communicates I am here, I see you here, and what you’re saying matters. You matter.
This one can be very counterintuitive for (some) adults. It’s so easy to get caught up in correcting behaviors, keeping routines, running to therapy appointments, and just keeping things together, that we sometimes forget to have fun and just enjoy each other!
Playfulness and a little light-heartedness can go a long way in relieving tension and diffusing negative behaviors. Tickle-monsters, games, and silly songs might be just the trick to reset a difficult day!
Take every opportunity to praise and encourage your child for anything positive you see them doing. Even if it’s just a small step in the right direction– praise the effort! This will build their self-esteem and make it more likely they’ll continue taking additional steps in the right direction.
It is so important to affirm the positive and not just correct the negative. In his book “A Family Shaped by Grace,” Gary Morland shares that it takes 6 positives to balance one negative. With the amount of behavioral correction we need to give our children, it’s really important to balance all that correction with genuine praise and encouragement as often as we can.
Parenting a child who has experienced trauma takes truckloads of patience!
- Patience toward your child: It takes patience to remain calm when your child’s behavior is out of control for the 10th time by 10 am, or when you find yourself teaching the same thing over and over with only minimal positive results,
- Patience for yourself: Don’t forget to have patience for yourself while you are learning new and more effective parenting methods and un-learning all the traditional, ingrained methods that are so easy to default to. You will mess up–we all do! Forgive yourself and try again.
- Patience in the process: We live in such an instant gratification society that many of us have become programmed to get discouraged when things don’t happen as quickly as we want. Healing takes time– a lot of time. Hopefully, through patience and perseverance progress will continue to be made, but it’s important to realize that full healing may never be complete until we reach heaven. In the meantime, try to be patient with the process and focus on the progress that has been made.
No matter how worth it and rewarding it is, raising kids can be tiring.
Raising children who have trust issues, behavioral, and emotional issues can be downright exhausting! It’s easy to get discouraged when we see only incremental changes (or no changes at all!).
Dear, worn and weary parent– I want to encourage you to keep on keeping on and affirm that what you are doing matters…a lot. Don’t give up! ♥
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Prayer is the ultimate parenting tool and by far the best practice of all.
If your child has come to you through adoption or foster care, you won’t know exactly why certain things trigger your children. You weren’t there to witness the hurts inflicted, but God knows every intricate detail, every wound, and every crack that needs to be filled.
Who better to lead and guide as you parent than the Creator of your child. He knows what is required to heal every child and what methods will work best in each individual situation.
Allow Him to be your parenting partner by not only bringing your child before Him in prayer but also listening for His voice and instruction in return.
Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part.
~ Andrew Murray
Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.
~ Corrie Ten Boom
Pray without ceasing.
~1 Thessalonians 5:17