Parenting After Trauma: Healing Past By Nurturing Child's Future

It is important to not chide children who have suffered trauma for their behaviour and instead adopt a slow yet steady approach to forming an emotional bond

With children accounting for 39 per cent of our country’s population, the Government of India has taken many initiatives to ensure the safety and wellbeing of every child. However, despite these proactive efforts, many children experience trauma during their formative years on account of losing their parents, being bullied by peers or being victims of emotional abuse. Then there is the larger problem of sexual abuse by peers or elders, which can be extremely damaging to a child’s coping mechanism, scarring them for life. Against this backdrop, it is imperative that parents learn to identify early signs of trauma and help their children in rebuilding their lives. In the absence of parents or guardians, social welfare-focused Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in helping children affected by trauma, embracing aspects of positive parenting and fostering their development into healthy adults.   

Building an emotional connect

More often than not, children who have been subject to some form of trauma suffer from emotional disconnect and have trouble expressing their thoughts or feelings. It is important to not chide children for this kind of behaviour and instead adopt a slow yet steady approach to forming an emotional bond with them. This can be done by conducting fun-filled activities, spending quality time doing outdoor sports or any other kind of recreational activity that will help in spurring them to open up. Restoring a set daily routine will help the child in overcoming the trauma. Over a period of time, the bond formed during such activities will help these children to start expressing themselves by ventilating their feelings without being held back by the anguish of past experiences.

Healing through empathy and trust

Children have a natural coping mechanism that can be overwhelmed by a traumatic experience, forcing them to seclude themselves from society and even loved ones. It is therefore very important to approach them with empathy, providing them with an avenue to express their latent feelings. With constant support and through patient listening, NGOs should focus on offering experiential advice that the child’s parent would have provided, helping them forge a bond of trust in the process. With children who have been subjected to sexual abuse, this aspect assumes even higher importantance since the inherent tendency would be to fight any attempt to recount the traumatic experience. One of the adult caregivers should build a long-term trusting relationship and exhibit unconditional love to understand what can be done to improve the child’s situation.

Empowering children to be self-reliant and safeguarding basic rights

It is often assumed that being protective is the best way to shield children from the vagaries of life. However, in the case of a child suffering from trauma, this approach could be detrimental to the child’s development and invoke aggressive behaviour in a social environment. It would be more prudent to motivate them in carrying out simple tasks independently and give them the freedom to experiment with more complex chores as per their comfort level. Enabling the child to realize they are capable of handling one’s own issues through active participation in all the decisions affecting life. Eventually, this helps children to disassociate from any past trauma and build upon new experiences that can strengthen their emotional quotient.

To ensure that a child suffering from the effects of a traumatic experience doesn’t develop anxiety issues or suffer from a lifetime of depression, NGOs should entail the services of psychologists and paediatricians to provide the necessary clinical diagnosis and treatment necessary for extreme cases. That said, apart from medical treatment, following principles of good parenting holds the key to helping such children to completely recover from any residual feelings and lead a healthy life ahead. 

A child should be encouraged to understand their own inner qualities and passion for further development as they grow up. The basic rights of the child in care like food, nutrition, education, shelter, clothing, health, and safety should be well ensured.  Empower the children with knowledge of child rights so they can mould their future and recognise their fundamental rights for better standards in life ensuring their well-being and development. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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parenting nurture Trauma Healing Mental Health child

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