Dec 7, 2020

4 min read

Ways to Make Home a Safe Space for Your Kids

Ways to Make Home a Safe Space for Your Kids

Every one of us needs a place where we can be ourselves without the burden of society. A place where we can speak our mind about everything that is bothering us. A place where our questions won’t be judged and our feelings won’t be invalidated. This place is known as a safe space. In this safe space, we can dump out all our baggage — what happened in our day, how someone hurt us, what setbacks we faced, what goals we achieved, or something trivial like our favorite series. Especially for kids, the need for a safe space is crucial for their emotional health. As parents, you can make your home a safe space for your kids, where your children willingly come to you and talk about things.

Why do we need a safe space for kids?

When your kids feel unsafe or unhappy and are not able to talk about it, it creates pent up anger and emotions. They won’t be able to pay attention or think properly. They won’t be able to have a good night’s sleep or have a healthy diet. More importantly, lack of space for communication between you and your kids gives rise to feelings of distrust. This has harmful effects on your relationship with them. Your kids won’t be able to achieve their goals, and this will affect their mental health. Let us look at some tips for you to create a safe space for your kids to access their feelings.

Don’t Judge

The biggest barrier in any communication is the fear of judgment. The fear of being judged for what they are feeling or thinking can be very frustrating for a kid. The flip side is that they are judging you too! They are convinced that you think they are only complaining and being juvenile. So, the first thing you need to do is convince them that you will respect their feelings and listen without interrupting. Do not make any upsetting comments, this can make them go back to their shells. Some things they say may upset you, but be open to hearing them out.

Ask before giving advice

Sometimes all kids need is for you to listen to them. They want you to understand what they are going through and to show empathy. If they feel like anything they say could turn into a lecture, they will stop speaking. After you let them talk, ask them if they want advice or just your presence? Unsolicited advice may make them think that they are not mature or responsible enough for you. When you take a step back and just listen to them, it also gives them time to process these issues, along with the belief that they can overcome adversities on their own. They may need time to make a decision about whether they want to tackle the issue or take a few moments to think about it.

Choose a good location

Have these intimate conversations with your kids in a quiet place where there are no distractions. Switch off all the electronics around you. Make sure that you won’t be interrupted or overheard by others. Find a place where you and your kid won’t be interrupted or overheard by others. This could be a room where you live or even outside of your home, like your balcony or backyard. Make sure it’s a place that isn’t too noisy. By limiting any distractions, you and your kid will have a better chance to connect. You can also have these conversations while bonding over activities encouraging emotional learning like planting a tree, cleaning the beach, volunteering for a cause, etc.

Measure your reactions

Some of the things that your child may share with you will be intense or maybe even upsetting — a friend’s betrayal, a teacher’s rude behavior, their own sadness and disappointment, their mental health issues, bunking lectures with friends, or even issues with someone they are dating. These issues might make you go into protective mode, but if your reaction is negative, they may go back to their silent mode. Your reaction may not be wrong as a parent, but as a confidant, you need to keep your emotions in check. If they have come to you with a problem, they trust you enough to help guide them through options and their emotions about the issue. It is absolutely normal for you to feel overwhelmed. You can calmly say something along the lines of, “This seems to be a very intense issue. I am so glad that you shared it with me. Please give me some time to think about it and get back to you.” Fix a time to get back to them and follow through.

Be open to different modes of communication

Many children have trouble speaking about their feelings by talking. They may not be able to fully articulate everything they wanted to say or may end up saying things that they didn’t mean to. Some kids need time to think before speaking out about their social-emotional learning health. This is completely normal and natural. Especially when talking to parents about personal issues, kids may feel uncomfortable or intimidated. If they wish to write down their feelings on a piece of paper, a text, or a voice recording, be open to it. Encourage any and all forms of communication.

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