Early trauma disrupts a child’s perception of people and things being permanent and constant (the same over time). Learn ways to help your child heal in these two areas.
Object relations interventions (to use with school aged children)
Children who struggle with deficiencies in object relations experience a higher-than-normal degree of fear when they face a school day with rules they can’t remember, unfamiliar places, superficial relationships, and lack their only source of security (parent). This higher degree of fear often results in poor behaviors. Here is a short list of object relations interventions to help the child feel less afraid and reduce the problematic behaviors being presented.
- Use empathy for the child’s experiences; “It must be scary to have a part that feels like your mom (dad) is not there.”
- Repeat frequently “I am the mom (dad) you can trust.”
- Arrange with school staff means of communicating with your child daily or throughout the day, teacher received texts and emails, phone calls to the child, etc.
- Parents may provide transitional objects designed to generate awareness of the primary caregiver when not present.
- Write positive and encouraging notes for child to “find” tucked away in school books and supplies.
- Laminate family pictures for child to take to school, have in backpack, desk, lunch box.
- Share parental fragrances with your child: hand cream, shaving lotion, essential oils.
- Teach child to use a blanket or stuffed animal for comfort by including it during snuggle times. Add parental scent to the blanket or stuffed animal.
- Send parent provided snacks, pencils, photos, and treats, etc. to school, camp, day care, grandparents, etc. for care providers to give to your child when the need arises. Write notes of encouragement on each.
- Provide cards describing expected behaviors in normal school day activities. For instance: four rules for walking in the hall (hands to yourself, walk in line, keep a little space between you and the other students, no talking), or X# rules for quiet time, or X# lunchtime rules, etc. The goal is to increase a child’s ability to remember that rules exist and what the exact rules are.
- Provide calming and centering space and activity dispersed throughout the day.
On the bus:
- Provide attentional directing activities: audio-books, video games, stuffed animals and small toys (like cars and trucks), books to read or activity books.
- Utilize calming transitional objects to increase awareness of the caregiver: blankets, pillows, fidgets, etc.
- Utilize intentional seating to increase the child’s awareness of rules and connection to trusted individuals.
- Encourage relationship between child and driver.
At home prior to school day:
- Provide and promote discussion about fears and how to address them.
- Generate morning and send off rituals designed to facilitate connection between caregiver and child. Use The Kissing Hand book, high-fives, knuckle punches, mommy hugs, etc. This is a good time to share scents of hand lotion, after-shaves, or essential oils, etc.
- Provide object for the child to return to the parent at the end of the day
- Hide secrete notes in book, lunch bags, and/or pockets.
- Make a list of possible activities and after school snacks for when child returns.
At home after school:
- Provide intentional, reconnective time and activities immediately upon return.
- Create time and activity to uniquely meet your child’s needs:
- Provide a period of physical activity for those children who need to get some energy out
- Provide calming, isolative experiences for the child who needs to calm down
- Ritualize or script some discussion around what the parent did and what the child did during separation
- Enjoy a snack together
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