By Tami Carson, Retention Services, Utah Foster Care
February is the month we celebrate love – something we all value. Children who have experienced trauma struggle to trust, build secure and loving attachments, and accept the love we offer them. Their desire for connection can be overridden by the emotional dysregulation that accompanies trauma. An important question to explore is how to help a child build security and trust in their relationship with you. The answers will vary, based on the needs of the child and what has happened to them. However, there are simple ways to build love – no matter the circumstances.
Here are some ideas:
- Create a space that is just for them – a little spot they can hang pictures and make choices about the decorations.
- Hang up pictures of them around your home.
- Display their artwork on your fridge.
- Give them a voice in choosing family activities or outings.
- Place surprise notes of encouragement in their lunchbox, pockets, or sock drawer.
- Speak positively about them in front of others.
- Let them chose a game to play together and set aside distractions during that individual or family time.
- Listen with curiosity and the intention to understand, rather than correct.
- Let them plan a meal and take time to cook with them.
These tips may not heal the trauma children have experienced, however they will build connection and trust over time. Take time this month to discover ways the children in your home feel loved and put one in to practice.