There’s no denying it, raising a child with attachment issues is hard. But no matter how disappointed you become, and no matter how defeated you sometimes feel, if you hang in there, you can make a dramatic difference in your child’s life. This is why we include commitment as one of the 10Cs of healthy parenting.
While any parent knows that as parents we sign on for the long haul, it is even more essential for a parent of a child with an attachment disorder to make a long-term, unwavering commitment to that child.
You cannot create secure attachment without commitment. So, you must be willing to be available to your child through thick and thin and to take certain actions and respond in certain ways that will lead to a relationship based in safety, security, and trust.
What does this kind of commitment look like?
It is a pledge to:
- Keep your child safe — Protect your child from physical danger or injury, and be a reliable caregiver who provides emotional safety and security
- Truly know your child — Have a deep understanding of your child’s history, temperament, strengths, and sensitivities in order to meet his needs and promote positive improvement.
- Provide necessary structure for your child — Create and maintain the appropriate rules, boundaries, and consequences, based on your child’s developmental stage and emotional needs.
- Have compassion for your child’s pain — Feel and show empathy for the underlying anguish and distress your child experiences due to past trauma and current fears
- Be a positive role model — Show your child, via actions and attitudes, examples of love, honesty, self-control, and decency.
- Support growth and healthy development – Maintain a healthy environment that encourages your child’s physical, emotional, social, and moral growth.
How can you assure your child that you won’t abandon them?
It’s not easy proving to a child that has only experienced trauma and abandonment in the past that you will be there for them no matter what. You can talk until you are blue in the face and it won’t work. It’s action, over time, that makes the difference. Children must experience commitment and stability over and over before it sinks in. Never stop trying. Never give up. If you make a mistake, try again. Remember, your child’s difficult behavior is the result of learned attitudes and beliefs. If they learned one way of being, given time, they can learn another. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!
Commit to yourself as well
When you are making a commitment to your child, you must also make a commitment to maintaining your own emotional, social, and spiritual health. Helping a challenging child requires you to be at the top of your game. Only by caring for yourself will you have the strength and focus needed to fulfill your commitment to your child.