Keeping our children emotionally safeThursday, September 01, 2011
The Self-Aware Parent
Everywhere I turn there are news alerts and articles about how to protect children physically, how to keep them from being hurt, how to keep them safe in school, on their bikes, in the car.
Important and necessary, yes - but it makes me wonder why we don't focus as much attention on children's emotional safety.
Why aren't we just as vigilant about children's emotional wellness, their spirit, their "beingness", their "I AMness"?
I feel an urgency to direct more energy and thought toward this incredibly important place.
To remind parents to become more aware and invested in what's going on inside of their children. To remember that everyday interactions make an impact on our children's emotional well being.
So how do we make emotional safety a priority? Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling…..
- Allow your children to ask questions and offer a different perspective without judgment - don't shame them, don't make them feel guilty.
- Allow your children to express emotion, even when it's uncomfortable feelings like sadness or anger.
- Allow your children to have their own life - don't ask them to take on your dreams.
- Listen. Be quiet, get out of teaching mode and listen.
- Touch them lovingly - hugs, hand holding, massages or an arm around the shoulder.
- Trust that your children know who they are, don't tell them who to be.
- Trust that your children are innately good.
- Teach your children to believe in love, not fear.
- Sometimes you have to allow your children to fail so they can learn life's lessons - then be their greatest cheerleader and support system as they pick up the pieces.
- Remember that discipline means teaching, understanding, respecting, communicating and listening - it doesn't mean instilling fear.
- Put down the phone and close the computer - offer some undivided attention.
- SEE your children and let them know that you see them - offer smiles, eye contact, high fives, thumbs up, fist bumps, whatever works.
- Make the house, or at least a space in the house, calm and peaceful so if quiet is needed, it can be found.
- Allow your children to be children - don't burden them with adult problems and issues.
- No more over scheduling your children - let them play.
- Don't place conditions on your love and stop saying,"I love you, but….". If you are going to say I love you, end it with a period.
- Focus on today and this moment - get out of the past, don't jump into the future.
- Love yourself, heal yourself, nurture yourself, make yourself a priority, deal with your issues, ask for help, don't be a martyr - like it or not, you are your children's role model for emotional safety.
So I guess that's more than a few suggestions....and some of them are a bit uncomfortable because they are more about being rather than doing.
But it's time to begin the journey toward self understanding and inner peace - it's the only way we can raise children who innately understand this.
Because really, raising our children in an emotionally safe environment is our personal contribution toward changing the world.
It's time to break the cycle of fear, move in the direction of love and embrace that, like it or not, we are all connected.
With that innate understanding it's super easy to be part of a community, to give back, and to serve others.
But to teach it, we have to believe it. We have to look inside, sift through old patterns, heal what's been hurt, rediscover our own inner light, embrace our self love and then live from that heart-centered place.
No, we don't need to be perfect….there is no such thing. We will still make mistakes, have uncomfortable feelings, and have challenges to deal with - we are human after all.
But once we accept this, we can teach our children to accept it, too. We can help them embrace what is so they can easily move with the ebbs and flows of life.
It's simply a redefining of what it means to feel truly safe - inside and out.