Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Emotional Safety

What does it mean to create an emotionally safe environment for children?

This was the topic of a recent discussion in Motherhood Later than Sooner. The author suggests that to create emotional safety for children, they need to experience an environment where they feel supported and encouraged to express their feelings and concerns and where they can develop an awareness and respect for others. Parents can do this by:

1) Acknowledging children's positive behaviors and strengths

2) Maintaining age-appropriate expectations

3) Being consistent with responses and actions

4) Respecting children's feelings

5) Modeling sensitivity and self awareness

6) Providing positive values

7) Helping children work through their feelings and develop their own coping skills

Parents do not have to be perfect at this, they just need to be good enough. Good enough parenting is about being attuned to children's needs and being able to reflect on and repair misattunements when they occur. All of these things contribute to emotional safety.

Much has been written on the concept of being a good enough parent and creating an emotionally safe space for children. For more discussion on this concept, see my previous post Good Enough Parenting and check out this article from IVillage What is "Good Enough" Parenting?