From the time we arrived at Dimples’ school in January, she was “in hand”. Everywhere she went, she had to hold the hand of an adult. The purpose was for her to get to know the staff and the program, and for them to get to know her.
The goal in the first phase of treatment is for Dimples to learn to trust the adults and believe they will meet her needs.Our children who have early histories of trauma do not believe this – deep in the core of their very being, they don’t believe that their needs will be met.
Think about how many times we respond when our babies cry; we pick them up, comfort them, feed them. This happens over and over again. But some of our kids cried and nobody came, or somebody came and frightened or hurt them. They were hungry and there was no food. They were cold, they were sick, they were in pain —- and nobody came. They had no voice.
They came to believe that they were not people of worth, which produced a deep sense of shame. Shame - that sounds familiar, doesn’t it.
By taking Dimples “in hand” the staff is demonstrating that her needs will be met, her questions will be answered, and that adults can be trusted. It pains me that she couldn’t learn that here, but I’m trying to let go of that and embrace this process.
Bee reminded me the other day of a time when I kept her close by my side, having her hold on to my belt loop as I worked in the kitchen. Essentially, I was keeping her “in hand”.
Likewise, for years Russ perpetually had a child in a backpack on his back, and I often had a little one in a sling or whatever the great-baby-carrier-of-the-time was. We kept them close, we met their needs. When they cried, we were right there to hear them. Perhaps keeping a child “in hand” is a way to mimic that early developmental meeting of needs.
Maybe this concept will be helpful to one of you. Have you tried anything similar with your child?