We all like to feel a sense of safety and security. Kids are no different. Children who feel secure are more likely to become independent and emotionally healthy as they grow up. When a child feels secure, they feel safe, not just physically, but emotionally as well.
Children need to feel that it is okay to express and feel emotion. They need to feel there is stability in their lives. They need to have a routine and a consistent environment. They should know that their needs will be met and that people in their lives will work to keep them safe.
The benefits of a child feeling secure are many: they develop emotional, mental and physical health. They learn to trust others, they have healthier relationships, and they are more likely to develop self-confidence.
Planning for Your Child’s Future Security
How can you, as a parent, work to make sure your children feel secure and grow into emotionally and mentally healthy adults? Here are five key ingredients to helping grow your child’s inner sense of security:
Comfort. When your child is lonely, hurt, scared, or worried, they need your comfort. Not a lecture, not a “don’t be afraid!” Not a dismissal of their fear or concern. Just your empathy and comfort.
Clear Boundaries. When your child knows the boundaries, they don’t have to second guess or worry about angering you. If there are no clear boundaries, they may get in trouble one day and not the next, which makes every day a guessing game as far as how mom or dad will react. Clear boundaries and clear consequences make not make them happy all the time, but it will create a sense of security.
Your Example. If you are setting an example of security, your children will follow in your footsteps. If you are always worried or anxious, if you are not consistent in your beliefs or core values, if you are angry about a messy room one day and yet your room is almost as messy, your child is learning that their behavior is a huge guessing game. And that example that you are setting chips away at their sense of security.
Your Awareness. It’s natural to pay attention to your kids when they are little, but the older they get, we tend to confuse letting them grow independent with not paying as close attention. For the sake of your child’s mental health, always pay attention–to their friends, to their activities, to their grades, to their eating habits, to the changes in their behavior, to their social media. You can do this without being pushy or annoying. You can do this by being present, by listening, by asking questions about their opinions or thoughts.
Your Availability. The best way to work on your awareness is by being available to your children. If you are always too busy to talk, to listen, to help when they need it, to be at their games or events, or even just to hang out, you will be less aware of who your child really is and your absence will cut into their sense of security.
Wrap those five ingredients up in a huge portion of your love and you have the recipe for growing a child into a secure and strong adult. Remember, that the greatest of these ingredients is LOVE. If your child feels loved unconditionally–never mind being a perfect parent or the cool parent or the parent that buys the neatest stuff for their kids–that is the strongest indicator that they will grow up feeling secure.
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