Some tips for pre- and elementary schoolers for families that have experienced domestic violence or abuse.
Preschoolers are on the path to self-control. Most preschoolers are toilet trained and can speak in full sentences that are easily understood by adults. Sometimes living with violence in the family gets in the way of a child’s development. Also, they may have difficulty with feelings that lead to challenging and disobedient behaviors.
What can you do to help your preschooler?
- Think about how to talk with your child in an age-appropriate way about your family situation. Answer questions as they come up as honestly and clearly as possible without frightening your child.
- Reassure children about their safety and the safety of your family. Talk about the importance of everyone learning self-control, and make sure that violence is no longer part of your family life.
- Get regular well child doctor visits. Ask for help if you notice any developmental delays or have concerns about your child.
- Establish routines at home to help your child feel safe and secure. Play with your child for at least 10 minutes each day.
- Read to your child as part of your daily routine. Read books that help you talk with your child about feelings and emotions.
Children of this age start to become more aware of the world outside their own family. They may have confusing feelings as they try to figure out what happened in their family. They may be behind in school due to moving frequently. They may have trouble with self-control. When children see violent behavior in the home, they may be learning that this is an acceptable way to behave. They may use violence to solve problems.
What can you do to help your elementary-age child?
- Be open to talking with your child about what happened in the family and listen openly to your child’s worries. Remember your child is not your friend and is not grown up. Think before you share what is on your mind. Ask yourself – can my child really understand this?
- Pay attention to your child’s school learning and ask for help for your child if needed.
- Spend time with your child. Even 10 minutes a day goes a long way in helping your child and your relationship.
- Be sure to supervise your child. Even though school-age children can be independent, they still need to know their parent is by their side.
- Model peaceful problem solving in front of your child.
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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