Make It Safe: 5 Ways To Create A Safe Space In Your Home

brain development in children, feelings, emotional health for children, parenting, , parenting skills, parenting, parent coach, parent coach los angeles, parent coach orange county, parent skills, mercedes samudio lcswA lot of the time we need a space to dump out all of our stuff – what happened in our day, how we were treated by someone, what successes we had, things we accomplished, and just to rant about something trivial. Everyone needs this type of space and for our children it is so integral to their emotional and mental health for them to be able to find a safe space to share. What you may miss sometimes is how to create that space so that you child will willingly come to you and talk about things.

Before we get into some tips on how to create a safe space, I wanted to take a moment to explain why we need a safe space as humans to share our feelings and thoughts. It’s not just a kid thing. It’s really a human thing. When we feel unsafe we are in a part of our brain called the “reptilian brain” which houses the flight or fight responses. Think about that for a minute: if we are in a flight or fight part of our brain do you think we will be able to have a real conversation about our feelings? The answer is no, we will not be able to accomplish that. Another interesting fact, our feelings reside in a higher part of our brain that cannot be accessed until our flight or fight response is turned off. This means that when our children feel unsafe – for whatever reason – they are unable to have real conversations about what is going on for them because they are thinking about defending themselves and do not have access to their feelings. This is true for us as adults too! I know this is a basic explanation of how our brains function, but it was necessary before we get into what we can do to create a space that is safe for our child to access their feelings.

Now, that we have that discussion out of the way – let’s look at a 5 ways that you can make it safe for your child to talk to you:

  1.  Don’t judge: The biggest barrier to talking to you is the fear that you will judge them for what they think or feel. Most kids know that adults think their ideas are juvenile and immature. But, you can let your child know that you are open to hearing what they think before making an comments.
  2. Ask before giving advice: After you’ve let your child talk you can simply ask if they want advice or did they just want a space to rant. When you take a step back and let your child know that you are there for more than just advice giving and lecturing you create a space where your child can decide if they’re ready to tackle their issue right then or if they need more time to process it.
  3. Don’t over-react: Some things that your child chooses to share with you will be intense – a friend’s mental health, their own sadness and disappointment, being offered substances with friends, or even having dating issues. These issues might make you go into “emergency parent mode,” but you don’t want to over react to what your child is telling you. If they came to you with the issue they trust you to help guide them through solutions and their feelings about the issue. If you are overwhelmed by the issue your child tells you, let them know. You can say: “That’s a really intense issue, and I thank you for sharing it with me. Do you mind if I take a minute to gather my thoughts and I can talk to you about [set a time to come back to it].”
  4. Stick with them: There will be times that your child will be experiencing something that seems trivial or unimportant to you. Or, there will be times that your child is not able to express what they are feeling in a healthy way. For both times you can be triggered to dismiss what’s going on as a kid issue and jump to lecturing. I challenge you to do this instead: tell them “I am here to talk when you are ready. I’m sorry that I do not understand what is going on for you, but I would like to. So, come talk to me when you’re ready and I will listen without judgment.” This statement lets them know that you are honest about not knowing and that when they do choose to talk you will be there to listen without judging them.
  5. Use empathy: You knew this one was going to be in here. Whether you child chooses to talk to you or not, be empathetic about the process of sharing your feelings. And, realize that no matter how safe an environment you have created you child may still not always open up right away.

Essentially, the process of sharing and being open is a practice that we all have to develop. You do not always want to share what you are feeling for fear of being rejected, judged, or ignored. The same process happens for our children too. Creating a safe space for them to talk does not erase this process but it guides your child through it more smoothly because they know they are not alone in being human.

4 thoughts on “Make It Safe: 5 Ways To Create A Safe Space In Your Home”

  1. Love the idea of sticking with them

    1. Hi Claudia! Thanks for the kind words! I love this idea as well! I think it’s easy to walk away or dismiss our children’s feelings when they are intense. But, creating a safe space for your child means that you stick with them to help them learn better ways to express themselves. I appreciate your comment and hope that you will share your insights on other posts as well!

  2. Such a great blog! Can’t wait to share these tips with middle school parents tomorrow! And your contact info too!

    1. Hey Traci! Thanks so much for the kinds words! I hope that the posts supported the families you shared it with! And, thanks for sharing the posts!

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