Being a parent comes with a vast array of challenges, some universal and some unique. Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of being a parent is seeing your child hurt. No matter how large or small, it can be heartbreaking to witness your child in pain. Still, as a parent you have the opportunity to walk alongside your child towards healing, especially when they have been severely emotionally, psychologically, and mentally wounded.
Children who trust their parents to take care of their physical and emotional needs develop what is known as secure attachment. This provides children the opportunity to get to know themselves, others, and their environment in a safe way. Children who have secure attachment with their parents think of themselves as worthy of love and they believe others will be responsive to their needs in times of distress.
This can be a huge protective factor if/when your child gets hurt by others. After something painful happens, children will need more attention and availability from their parents. Children with secure attachments in particular feel they have a safe space to process these painful, possibly unsafe events. In the face of severe trauma, children who trust their caregivers show less distress than those whose parents minimize their feelings or become frightened of the event.
While being a parent can be extremely difficult when you see your children suffer, it can also be an opportunity for you to show them they are loved and so cared for. This kind of response stays with them months, even years down the road, whether they realize it or not.
If you or your child are walking through some painful events and you are in the Chicago area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000.
Written by Kathryn
2021 Graduate Intern
Ensink, K., Borelli, J. L., Normandin, L., Target, M., & Fonagy, P. (2020). Childhood sexual abuse and attachment insecurity: Associations with child psychological difficulties. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 90(1), 115-124.