Welcome to the Beyond Discipline: 10 Building Blocks for Positive Parenting Series.
This is the 6th post in a series of 10 on the Building Blocks for positive parenting.
Building Block #6
Children need to have a sense of safety to thrive. When children feel safe, and believe they can trust the adults in their life they are better able to become engaged in learning, exploring and growing. Feeling safe also gives children the security to express themselves and remain authentic and confident while becoming part of the world around them.
Safety is often thought of just stranger danger , child proofing and car seats, but safety is also about social and emotional well being too.
As parents, we create a sense of safety for our children not only by meeting their physical needs such as nourishment and rest, we also create a safe home when we show our children that we love them by meeting their emotional and social needs for touch, care, learning, giving them the freedom to express themselves creatively, and emotionally and using positive parenting tools to deal with mistakes and “misbehavior”.
We can parent in ways that promotes safety by:
Being responsive and sensitive to children’s needs:
Starting in infancy, when parents respond sensitively to their infant, they are creating a connection based on providing safety and security. Making sure children have food when they are hungry, rest when they are tired, age appropriate activities to expand their energy and curiosity, hugs and a listening ear when they are upset are all ways to respond to our children’s ongoing needs. That safety and security translates into building trust. In turn the more children can trust their parents the more they will look to them for guidance, understanding and connection.
Striving to guide children positively:
Aiming to use positive ways to connect and correct mistakes or disruptive behaviors such as time-in, play, positive conflict resolution, routine charts, family meetings is not just a wonderful way to maintain that trust and sense of safety, it truly essential to help our children grow confidently. Deciding to forgo threats, fear, shame, constant conflict, harsh punishments and punitive consequences may at times be difficult or seem impossible but these measures often create a lot of fear and disconnect between parents and children and don’t actually lead to life long learning. When children fear their parents they may experience feelings of anxiety, they may retreat inwards and become defiant, unhappy and disconnected.
Respecting our children’s voice and personal space:
To often children are expected to just comply with parental requests but children have boundaries and comfort levels and as parents we are safe guarding our child’s natural safety instincts when we respect their voice and personal space. If a child doesn’t want to be tickled, if a child feels uncomfortable in a certain outfit, if child is reluctant to kiss a relative, refuses to enter a strange place we should strive to first understand and honor these requests and be aware that by not doing so we are hurting our child’s sense of safety.
Promoting safety by meeting our child’s needs and respecting their personal space is NOT the same as giving in to every thing they wish for or WANT. As with all the other building blocks for positive parenting, finding ways to balance everyone’s needs and boundaries is the key to creating and maintaining healthy parent-child relationships.
Questions for Reflection
When you think of your child’s safety, do you think about her emotional and social well being or typically just about things like stranger danger, child proofing or chemical hazards?
How did your parents discipline you as a child – did you ever fear them and how does this carry over into your parenting choices today?
Peace & Be Well,
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