Kids need to feel a sense of security. It is vital for them to grow up to be healthy, strong adults.
British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby, the founding father of attachment theory explains the need for security this way: Attachment is an emotional bond that impacts behavior from the cradle to the grave.
Safety and security is the main concern for children with attachment problems. They do not feel safe and tend to be distant. Their guard is up all that time it prevents them from accepting love and support. Your child has to know that no matter what, you will be there. (ChoicesTherapy)
How can you be sure that your child is growing up in a home where they feel that sense of security? The easy answer is that your child feels loved and supported. However, I’d like to break that down into 5 specific ways that you can show that love to your children.
When they are little, you are there to kiss their boo-boos and check on them when they are worried about monsters under the bed. Get down on their level in order to let them know that you care even about their smallest hurts.
Their hurts may get bigger as they grow older–a broken heart in high school, the loss of a good friendship, getting cut from the team–but they still need your comfort. Don’t withhold it even though you are thinking to yourself, I was afraid this would happen or I told you so.
To remove some of their fear of the unknown, establish very precise boundaries for your children. These should be appropriate to their age-level, but firmly enforced.
When your kids know the boundaries, the “fences”, they can feel freedom knowing that punishments will not come as a surprise because they KNOW their limits.
Being a role model to your children is perhaps the most challenging job a parent has. As you live out your core values in your home, share with them your “war stories” of how you have faced difficulties. Be honest about when you made poor choices and the consequences you suffered.
This is not a time to brag about what you did in high school, but to help them understand that you suffered consequences and that you do not want them to have to go through the same things.
Your role model should not be the one of a perfect parent, but of a real one who is honest about struggles, the lessons you learned, and the victories you had.
Know what is going on in your child’s life–their activities, their hobbies, their dreams, their worries, fears, friends and heroes. You can’t protect your children if you don’t know what’s going on.
As kids grow, many parents, in an attempt to “let go”, take a hands-off approach to their teens’ lives, but they do not need you to distance yourself. They need your guidance and coaching more than ever as they face challenges in life with school, friends, and sports.
Who are their best friends?
What kind of music do they listen to? Movies? Books?
You may find this information by doing more listening, rather than interrogating.
Just being there for your kids is sometimes more reassuring than anything else you can do. This will require a sacrifice, but it’s worth it.
Being a parent is a hands-on job. Some of your greatest experiences will come when you are involved with your children in very unspectacular ways. The joys of parenting often come in the mundane of everyday life of just spending time together. It is also in these times that you will influence your children the most.
None of us want to raise kids who become insecure adults. In case you’re wondering what that looks like, take a look at these 28 characteristics.
If that’s not what you want for your child, then be intentional about giving them the sense of security they need.
If this is something you struggle with, please let me help as a parenting coach. Schedule a free consultation here.