There may be many reasons it is hard to help your child behave in a way that feels right to you. Some parents don’t want to raise their child the way that they were raised, or they may feel guilty about the hardships their child has faced – especially for families that have experienced domestic violence or abuse.
This may make you reluctant to say “no” when you probably should. Talking to people you trust for advice and support can help you help your child, and it can be very useful overall. Listed below are some ideas that might assist you as you and your child recover from the trauma that you have experienced.
- Any kind of physical discipline is a NO for children who have lived in a household with violence. This includes raised voices and negative comments – which can remind children of what they heard when things were scary – and they won’t be able to listen to your words.
- Children/teens are more likely to listen to adults who they trust and those with whom they have a positive relationship. If things are difficult in the family, seek out help or get support to mend relationships. Spend time having fun with your child.
- Children need to have joy and areas of success in their lives.
- If children especially enjoy activities (choir, sports, etc.), it is never helpful to threaten taking away these activities as a way to punish the child for “bad” behavior.
- Children want to be close and feel safe with their parents. When children feel alone, they may behave badly because it lets them be connected – in at least some way – to their parent. Children can do wrong things, but this doesn’t mean they are bad children. Even if children hit and scream, it doesn’t mean they are acting like their abusive parent.
- If your child asks to see their missing parent and that is not going to happen, let your child know that the parent has made some bad choices. Because of bad choices, that parent is not safe to see right now. Your child can draw a picture or write a letter sharing their feelings with their parent, and you can save it for a later time.
The content of this post was developed in collaboration between Solid Ground’s Broadview program staff with consultant Lenore Rubin, PhD. Lenore is a child psychologist and an expert in helping children and families to thrive after experiencing trauma.
Domestic Violence Help in Seattle/King County
Call 206.299.2500 for Solid Ground’s confidential Domestic Violence shelter services and/or 2.1.1 toll-free at 1.800.621.4636, M-F, 8am-6pm for info about all King County resources.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.7233 or TTY 1.800.787.3224
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