Ways to build emotional safety

Emotional safety means that children feels safe enough to be vulnerable.

There are lots of ways to create emotional safety for children. By building a supportive space, we help them develop compassion, resilience and confidence.

Here are some ways to create a supporting environment:

~ Listen first; talk second. As carers or parents, we can often jump in to comment on how a certain experience might feel, or suggest what children might be feeling. Let them explore and communicate to you as much as possible. More often than not, attentive listening is enough.

~ Avoid squashing emotions. What seems ‘small’ to us might feel really big to a child. Rather than dismissing feelings, allow a child to feel them, and then move on once the emotion passes through them. It can be helpful to remind them that they own their feelings, not the other way round.

~ Reserve judgement. When adults engage in negative behaviour, children develop negative core beliefs. They might not understand sarcasm at a young age, but they do pick up on tone of voice and expressions.

~ Express your own emotions. It’s healthy to allow children to see the range of emotions we go through as adults. It shows them that it’s part of being human. By talking about emotions, children learn that we all have big feelings.

Emotionally safe relationships are built on trust and acceptance. When you show your child that you accept and love them, you are doing them – and their development – a world of good.

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