It made for a shy and timid personality. It effected my self confidence and social skills early on. It haunts me and will continue to follow me.
It's not to say that I wasn't loved. I was. My mom was a single mom and we moved a lot. I went to 10 different schools in 2nd grade. It was crippling to my ability to make friends or feel comfortable in social situations. We had very little in the way of money and I was the oldest child of 2. I worried a lot for my family's safety and about our food supply. I feared the lights getting turned off or worse, the electricity getting turned off in the middle of summer in the desert. I was scared about moving yet again. I witnessed an abusive relationship and it scarred me for life. I remember my chest and stomach always tight and my brow always furrowed. I remember feeling scared to walk to the mailbox.
I'm writing this post because I know the importance of making a child feel safe and secure. I'm writing this post not to complain about my upbringing but to bring awareness to parents.
Helping our kids feel safe, secure and loved goes a long way. It facilitates healthy mind, body, emotional and academic growth and development. It's a basis for a healthy self esteem and self confidence. These things later turn into their ability to stand up for themselves, have healthy relationships and a strong sense of morality and more.
Here are my ideas for creating a safe, secure and loving environment:
- Keep adult conversations (this includes money, relationship issues, job issues and even health problems) on hold until the kids are in bed. They don't need to hear the details of our budget problems.
- Do not allow any violence of any kind, ever. No exceptions.
- Talk to them. Engage in conversation about their day and be interested in their responses. Make eye contact and smile.
- Eat dinner together. Every. Single. Night. This provides a place and time to catch up with each other.
- Create routines. Having something predictable and constant is calming.
- Hang pictures of the family around the house.
- Make memories and traditions. Bake together, cook together, go hiking and biking together. Just be together.
- Express your love. Tell them how happy they make you, how handsome or beautiful they are, how proud you are of them. Tell them they do a good job. Make sure they know they are smart, funny and awesome.
- Listen to them. Listen to their hopes, dreams, fears and worries without judgement.
- Encourage them in whatever interests them.
- Smile, hug, kiss, repeat. You can never hold a baby too much, You can never hug too much. If hugging isn't their thing, give a shoulder squeeze or a pat on the back. Connect somehow.
There is so much more we can do to help our kids have a strong and sturdy foundation full of love and support. What can you add to this list?