Decorative image rebuilding trust with kids parenting after trauma

Being in a traumatic relationship can cause damage to all of your close relationships. If you have been through a high-conflict divorce your relationship with your child may have changed. Often, children need to learn to trust their parents again after divorce. There is hope that as you heal and change your life your relationship with your children will improve. Here are some ways to rebuild trust with your children.

Decorative Image rebuilding trust with kids after trauma

Rebuilding Trust With Kids

Traumatic relationships don’t give you much time for anything beyond survival. When the chaos after a messy breakup settles you may realize your relationship with your children has been damaged. Is it possible to repair the damage done? There is always hope for change even if it takes lots of time and work.

What is the saying? Time heals all wounds? That may be true but difficult if you are parenting children and want a better future for them.

Don’t despair. As you heal you will become a better parent. You can learn new parenting methods, like gentle parenting, to help you reconnect with your children.

Safe Space

The first step in rebuilding trust with kids is giving them a safe space to live and communicate. I am speaking of a literal safe space and a figurative safe space.

As you settle into your new life with your children and the situation with your co-parent calms down your home will become more peaceful and safer than ever. You can give each of your children their own space in your home where they can spend time alone and that can be a place of retreat when they are struggling and need to reset.

The figurative safe space is in their relationship with you. If they know they have a voice with you and can share their thoughts and feelings you can begin to build a level of trust that you may have never known with your children. This is a space where they can be heard even if they have to express things that you may not like to hear. You are teaching them how to advocate for themselves and know what it feels like to be heard.

You can and should establish boundaries that make sharing and receiving safe for everyone. This can mean rules such as sharing with kindness, no yelling, or slamming doors. You can teach them that when a discussion becomes heated it is a good thing to ask for and take a break to get your thoughts and emotions together before continuing. This also teaches them that emotions are valid and that it is important to work through them and not suppress them. Find healthy ways to express anger, sadness, and other negative emotions.

You are making a safe space for your children to learn how to navigate the complexities of relationships.

Decorative image rebuilding trust with kids parenting after trauma

Trusting Relationship

Making a safe space to dialogue with your children will go far in building a trusting relationship.

Another tip is knowing(ask them) if your children want you to help them, hug them, or just listen to them when they are sharing a problem or struggle. Sometimes as parents we jump into fix-it mode immediately when just hearing our children is what they need. They may need to talk about something so they can know how to move forward. Sometimes they want sympathy and a good hug. And then for the big problems they may want you to step in and help out or guide them.

When we let others solve their own problems we show them that we trust their capabilities and allow them to grow in strength and confidence. It is similar to how a child learns to walk. If you stop them from every fall and hold their hands every moment they will be delayed in their learning.

When we respect our children’s boundaries they learn they can and should have boundaries in their relationships. We also ask that our children respect our boundaries.

Mutual Respect

Demonstrating that you respect the thoughts and opinions of your children helps them learn to respect you. Teach them how to have a disagreement or discussion with someone without resorting to yelling or abusive behavior. Modeling kindness and respect for your children teaches them how to navigate difficult discussions without losing their temper or going against their personal code for how they wish to be treated and how they treat others.

To help build mutual respect you can set down some ground rules for discussions and disagreements. You could include rules like no stomping off, calling names, slamming doors, or getting physical. Set some rules for how someone can ask for time and space if they are feeling flooded with emotion. They could ask for a time out, tell the other person they need a break, or go for a walk or exercise before continuing the discussion.

A fun way to build mutual respect is to spend time together doing activities each person likes. This could look like a “yes” day or even a “yes” hour. You may find your children become more considerate of each other and you when the whole family is willing to spend time doing their favorite activity. You can let them take turns choosing the movie for movie night or let them have control over the remote for the day. Giving children responsibility for others and their environment in these little ways can build their confidence.

Decorative image rebuilding trust with kids

Sense of Trust

After an abusive relationship, you have to rebuild trust in yourself and others. Children may be going through something similar. Allowing them to make decisions for themselves can provide an important way to rebuild their sense of trust in themselves. Depending on the age of your children you can allow them decision-making over their new clothes, activities, what they will wear each day, and what they will eat. As children become older they can make even more important decisions for themselves.

Sometimes children will make bad decisions but learn a lot from those decisions. That amazing new toy may not live up to high expectations after they play with it at home. They learn an important lesson about what they like, marketing, and the value of their money when they buy the wrong item. These lessons will help them learn to make better decisions and trust themselves.

Decorative image rebuilding trust with kids

Personal Space

Giving each child a personal space in your home as well as knowing and respecting their personal space bubble is an important way to increase trust. If you are co-parenting with a narcissist they may have their boundaries disregarded by their other parent which makes it even more important that you protect their space.

What does this personal space look like? Some children are more sensitive than others and they may need a quieter and less stimulating environment. Others need more noise and activity. How do you balance these conflicting needs? You teach your children about their differences and take turns offering both environments. You can always allow the option for a child to sit out the activity by seeking refuge where they are comfortable.

You can talk about your needs and how you balance them with taking care of children who need something you don’t necessarily like to do. Also, you can find activities and environments where everyone feels comfortable to show how to work together to find solutions.

Family Therapy

Family therapy may be a helpful and necessary option as you rebuild trust with your children. Therapy can help you move forward in your healing process faster and give you tools to build a strong foundation of love and trust with your children. A therapist can facilitate discussions between you and your children and help everyone learn how to communicate safely.

Individual and group sessions can help rebuild sibling relationships as well as parent-child relationships.

A therapist can also teach children skills to communicate and advocate for themselves with a difficult parent. It is important that children learn the differences between manipulation and healthy communication especially if a parent is modeling destructive patterns of behavior. Therapy can help your children learn these important skills in a supportive environment.

Decorative image rebuilding trust with kids

Supportive Environment

Making a supportive environment for your children by fostering open communication for problem-solving, making your home a safe space, honoring their personal space, and honoring boundaries will go a long way toward rebuilding trust.

You have the opportunity to foster a positive relationship with your children built on love, trust, and mutual understanding. Changing how you parent and relate to your children will teach them about healthy relationships and increase their emotional well-being.

You and your children deserve to live in freedom and peace.

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