Parenting trauma is a totally different way of parenting. Basically, you have to throw out what you know about parenting (which is probably how you were parented), and become “child-centered” in your approach to parenting your traumatized child.
What does this mean? Here’s an example from this week.
I had made back-to-back appointments with a specialist for two of my children. The first appointment had lasted an hour-and-a-half. During that entire time, one child stayed in the waiting room playing on a tablet. I was so proud!
However, as we were waiting for the second appointment, the tablet’s battery died and this child became obsessed with playing a game on my phone. “Can I have your phone?” “Not fair!” “I want your phone!” over and over.
The scenario with old way of parenting (usually how a parent was parented):
“No, you can’t have my phone. Go sit over there and quite whining!”
Child gets mad and pouts. The incident would then probably escalate into more whining, maybe even angry words, perhaps a chair would be kicked, or may have turned into a full-blown meltdown in public.
Parent begins seething inside, and thoughts would begin spiraling into:
“Why can’t I just have a normal child that minds? Why did I think I could do this? I’m horrible at this parenting thing.”
Do you see all the negativity? It’s not good for the child and it’s not good for the parent.
Now, I could have just given him my phone to keep him quiet, but instead, I did something different…
Parenting Trauma with Connection
(Parenting trauma requires that connection with your child –> Check out these adoptive parenting techniques.)
“Let’s not talk about the phone right now. Come here. Come sit on my lap. We’re not talking about the phone right now.”
As I coaxed my child to sit in my lap, I pulled him close and began rocking him, rubbing his back. As he continually whined for my phone, in the most soothing voice I could muster, I replied: “Shhhh. We’re not talking about that right now. Let me hold you. We’re okay right now.”
For the next five minutes, he continued whining, and I continued to soothe him. Then, would you believe? He fell asleep!!! My child was tired and needed rest with me!
In that waiting room, as I looked down, at my 9-year-old child, I began reminiscing about how I rocked him as a baby. Friends, he is growing up so fast! I’ll be losing these opportunities soon.
I’m so thankful that I reacted to my child’s whining differently this day, for in this moment, I received the rare opportunity to travel back in time to hold and rock my baby again. Which was exactly what we both needed!