05 Mar How To Be Your Child’s Emotional “SAFE PLACE”
Taking care of your child’s physical needs is easy…well, relatively easy. Taking care of their emotional needs and becoming their safe place is a whole other ball game. Emotional needs are like icebergs, there’s more below the surface than meets the eye.
Some events in your child’s life may seem insignificant to you, while bringing intense emotions to them, whether they show it or not. Keeping their emotions inside can lead to problems in the future, and it’s your job as a parent to be their emotional safe place.
As parents, we need to not only tell our children they can come to us any time, about anything, we need to show them. Letting your child know you will always be the calm among the chaos is just as important as meeting their physical and intellectual needs.
Here are some ideas about how you can become that safe place:
Ask more than just superficial questions. Instead of asking what happened during the day, ask how they felt about the day. Try to pull out deeper thoughts and encourage conversation about those thoughts. Let them know you are listening and understanding.
Give names to emotions. Don’t hide your emotions from your child, whether it be happy or sad. Explain how you’re feeling when you’re frustrated, sad, angry, happy, excited or surprised. Expressing your emotions will help your child feel safe to express theirs.
Allow your child to feel what they’re feeling. If they’re sad, empathize with that. If they’re angry, don’t tell them they’re wrong to feel that way. Try not to minimize what they’re feeling because it seems pretty big to them.
If your child feels like you’re their emotional safe place for the small stuff, they will feel comfortable coming to you with the big stuff, which is exactly what you want.
Above all, practice what you preach. Have your own emotional safe place with a partner, friend, or counselor. We all need to feel safe to unload our feelings sometimes. Bottling them up creates a whole mess of problems.
Share your thoughts and ideas about being your child’s safe place. What works for you?