Excerpt from Chrissy Creates a Reason, More for the Caregivers
There is no question that a child being abandoned by a parent or caregiver has a lasting impact. One key influence on the level of negative impact this will have on a child in the present and throughout their life, is whether or not they have other healthy supports. This is only one of many tools that will help aid a child in overcoming this trauma.
Keys to Resilience for Children:
Resilience is one’s ability to maintain stability through and continue to thrive after a traumatic experience.
Community & Support
Research shows that having ONE healthy supportive adult in a child’s life can be a game-changer in their access to resiliency. Peer-support is also beneficial, for both you and the child in your life. This means you both need time to socialize with supports of your own age. Please see the resources section to aid in finding support groups for different parental roles. Furthermore, opportunities for your child to help others is empowering! Children will likely only demonstrate the behaviors of helping others, if you model the behavior for them. See someone whose hands are full? Offer to help. Notice someone who is looking down? Take a moment to check in. The child in your life will see this behavior, and is likely to follow your lead!
Emotions can feel so big, especially to the child in your life who may be dealing with feelings of abandonment. Emotional intelligence is determined by a person’s ability to recognize, manage and express their emotions. Demonstrating the ability to take a breath and make statements such as, “I feel sad right now” or “I feel angry because I don’t understand…” can help children to learn how to express their own big emotions. If emotional intelligence is something you struggle with (as many of us do), then seeking support to develop these skills is of the utmost importance. There is nothing shameful about asking for help, you deserve the support, and the child in your life needs you to seek it out.
Rituals & Routines
Having rituals and routines in the home can aid in creating a sense of security & stability for the child in your life. Rituals can look like a family dinner every night, doing homework together, or watching a movie on Friday nights. If you didn’t have family rituals growing up, this might seem hard to add in. I suggest you sit down with the child in your life and brainstorm ideas together! Remember, these rituals aren’t a reward, they should happen consistently, no matter what. An example of a routine would be tasks that occur at a certain time of day or week, for example, bedtime (bath, brushing teeth, reading a story). If you struggle with your own routines, this is a good time to start putting them into practice. It’s okay to start small. Say you have been going to bed at 1:30 in the morning, and want to start going to bed earlier, perhaps you’ll make a small shift to going to bed 30 minutes early the next night.
American Psychological Association. (2012). Resilience Guide for Parents and Teachers. www.apa.org/topics/resilience/