Keeping Children Safe: Make Home a Safety Zone
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In a world turned upside down with frightening events, what can parents do to help their children feel safe?
As a parent, you are an anchor for your children, and the home you create for them is an extension of your calming presence. Far more than a physical shelter, your home can be an emotional haven in the midst of a wild world. Here’s what you can do:
- Let your home be an “acceptance zone.” Be receptive, not judging, when it comes to your children’s emotions. Let them know that you welcome all of their feelings and thoughts. At home, it’s safe to be themselves.
- Be present, but not intrusive. Don’t probe; just be ready to listen.
- Avoid trying to talk them out of feelings that make you uneasy. When your child is sad or frightened, listen and express understanding. Sometimes this is all that is needed. Other times, once your child feels understood, she’ll be ready to hear your reassurance or explore solutions.
- Maintain a consistent structure and routine that your children can count on. When things are predictable at home, children feel safer. Even with busy schedules, it’s possible to place some consistent milestones in each day.
- Manage your own emotions. Try to have a support system in place for yourself – your spouse, your friends, other adult family members -- so that you can regain your own balance when tragic things occur. It’s helpful for your children to see you handle your feelings productively, but it’s frightening for them to see you overwhelmed.
- Practice kindness. Create a standard in your home where hostility and unkindness are not acceptable. Model positive conflict resolution in your relationship with your spouse or partner. Parents sometimes create an emotional war zone that is more devastating to children than the frightening events they hear about on the news. You can create a powerful sense of safety by being predictable in the way you handle and express your own emotions.
As parents, we have frighteningly little control over the world outside, but we do have control over the world our children come home to each night. Make your home a safety zone that your kids can count on.
©2008 Beech Acres Parenting Center; www.beechacres.org