You might be a parent or guardian, regular caregiver, or someone who cares for children. No matter what your relationship, you can be someone they trust and count on.
You want the best for your child. You try to keep them safe and healthy as they grow. Raising children can be hard and may be harder when your family has experienced domestic violence. Focus, when you are able, on connecting with your child. This brochure offers some simple ways to build that connection with your child and help them to feel loved.
If you are worried about your child or things seem to be getting harder, take a look at the resources on the back of this brochure for more help.
Twelve Everyday Gestures
- Take care of yourself. Whenever possible, get enough sleep, eat well, exercise and go to the doctor regularly so you can be there for your child.
- Focus on your healing. Domestic violence can affect our parenting in ways that aren’t always obvious. Reach out for help. Taking action toward healing will make it easier for your child to do the same.
- Play with your child and be part of their world. Find activities that you can do together, like reading, singing, blowing bubbles, drawing, dancing, or pretend play.
- Listen to your child to help them feel seen, heard, and valued. Show you are listening by bending down to make eye contact and putting down your phone.
- Make space for mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of learning. Praising your child’s efforts will encourage them to keep trying even when things don’t work out.
- Be your child’s cheerleader. Tell your child what you love about them and celebrate your child’s discoveries in the world around them.
- Inspire your child to try new activities. Help your child build new skills, such as building blocks and puzzles. Read to them or play with a ball.
- Stay close and comfort your child when they feel scared or overwhelmed. Taking deep breaths together and counting slowly can help your child calm down. Provide your child with a comfort object such as a pacifier, blanket, or soft toy that helps them self-soothe and feel safe.
- Talk to your child about their feelings. Naming emotions can help your child feel understood and identify what they are feeling. Help your child figure out if they feel scared, frustrated, unsure, tired, or angry.
- Create calm and predictable routines. Help your child know what to expect by creating habits such as having breakfast every morning and going to bed at the same time every night. Bring your traditions, faith, and culture into these routines.
- Set clear rules and expectations about your child’s behavior. Use simple language such as “no hurting” or “let’s clean up the blocks.” Model good behavior and reward your child’s efforts to follow family rules.
- Create a network of support for you and your child, and be a support for other parents. At some point we all need to ask for help. It’s good to talk to a trusted friend, faith leader, or mental health professional about your situation.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233); TTY 800-787-3224
- Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453
- Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673 (HOPE)
- StrongHearts Native Helpline: 844-762-8483
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-422-4453
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health: National Helpline: 800-662-HELP (5347)
- Changing Minds
Resource Type: Publication
National Centers: Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: December 5, 2019