When trauma occurs, trust is often shattered. Childhood trauma survivors often have difficulty creating connections and building relationships — even with close family members or friends. Because they live in fear and worry about whether the world is safe, they’re often surrounded by anxiety that impacts their mood, sleep, and concentration. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to heal childhood trauma through trusting relationships.
How You Can Help Your Child Heal from Trauma and Build Trust in Relationships
If your child is struggling to learn that adults can be patient, caring, and dependable due to past trauma, you can take the following steps to help them feel confident in the healing process.
- Talk with your child regularly
Communication is a core aspect of building trust. Find time to talk with your child and let them know you’re interested in what they have to say. This may be after school while you’re doing homework together or before they go to bed each night. Make it a regular act, so they know they can trust you as you rebuild a relationship that may have been broken by trauma.
- Listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings
On the flip side of talking is listening. When you start a conversation, give your child plenty of space to express their thoughts, feelings, and point of view. Don’t interrupt, judge, or criticize what they say. They should feel safe in expressing themselves and where they’re at.
- Accept their feelings
Your child may be expressing a wide range of emotions — anxiety, irritability, anger, depression. These are all normal reactions to loss and trauma. Demonstrate empathy and recognize that these feelings are sure to subside over time in a safe environment.
- Show patience and support
Each child will grieve their trauma and losses differently. Show patience and support as they do this and offer comfort and reassurance during this process.
- Encourage healthy expression
Your child may act out in negative ways to express how they feel. To help temper this response, provide constructive outlets. These can include talking, doing art projects, playing with others, making music, participating in sports, journaling, or other healthy methods of interaction you think of.
- Maintain consistency despite setbacks
After trauma, your child is sure to feel as if their world is being rocked. You can enhance their security and stability through structure and routines. Even if they act out, provide appropriate rules, expectations, boundaries, and consequences. Remaining consistent regardless of what happens will help your child know what to expect and trust your relationship more.
- Promote a sense of control
When trauma occurs, children often feel helpless and powerless. You can empower them in their lives and relationships by helping them navigate challenges in life and daily activities (hobbies, sports, clubs, and volunteering).
- Make home a safe place
Children who have experienced trauma do not know what may happen next and often live in fear. The one place this should not happen is at home. Your home should act as a place of comfort, security, and peace. Work to minimize any conflict at home and discipline with calmness and love.
To foster connection and create healing experiences after trauma, it all comes back to relationships. Rebuilding the trust in a relationship can take time, but by following these steps, your child can and will rebound.
Derek Clark is an inspiring conference keynote speaker and motivational & inspirational speaker that inspires audiences to never give up on a child. His personal life story of growing up in a toxic environment full of adverse childhood experiences, survived brutal child abuse and foster care for 13 years encourages audiences to never limit the potential of a child. He is the author of seven books and has over 250 million views on his videos.