The delicate world of our children hinges on feeling safe and secure, and much of this comes down to us as parents.
When their school life is challenging, they rely on the solid foundation of home life to keep them feeling safe and loved. When their home life is feeling uncertain or stressful, they rely on school to be their haven.
It’s fair to say that both school life and home life has had its challenges over the past couple of years, so it’s understandable that our kids are feeling unsure about the world around them and their safe place in it.
Our kids absorb everything. They listen to our conversations from when we think they’re out of earshot, they hear the news on TV from the room next door and they pick up on whether we are feeling relaxed and happy, or tired and stressed.
Their view of the world they are growing up in, and the adult world they are getting closer and closer to relies on how we portray it to be. Are we showing them that their future looks bright and happy, or are we painting a picture of doom, worry and stress? If they are constantly hearing about global warming, countries at war or crippling viruses, as well as the challenges we are all personally facing, then it’s no wonder they are not feeling confident and happy about the world they live in.
However, there are so many wonderful things we can do to show our kids that their future is bright and exciting, and their present is safe and happy.
We can start by eliminating as much negativity from their world as possible and help them to see the good in every day by:
- Keeping our negative conversations (including the news on TV) and complaints to when they are definitely asleep or completely out of ear shot.
- Planning fun activities they can look forward to each week (especially free ones).
- Spending time at home with them doing an activity they love.
- Going for a walk in nature together, every day if possible.
- Asking positive questions during mealtimes or while driving like ‘who was kind to you today, and how did that make you feel?’ and ‘what made you smile today?’ and ‘what makes you feel loved?’ and ‘what would make tomorrow more fun?’
- Thinking about how we are interacting with our kids. Are we having breakfast with them and spending time with them as they prepare for their day? Are we sharing positive communications with them throughout their day? Do we make them feel special when we see them first thing in the morning and again at the end of each day? Are our kids our top priority?
- Complementing our kids every day and recognising them for every small success (‘Great job on the dishes!’ ‘Thank you, that was a big help to me!’)
- Spending quiet time with our kids, slowing down and being in the moment with them, hugging them, looking them in the eye and engaging with them one on one.
- Helping them to put a family photo or a positive and calming image as the home screen on their phone.
- Playing relaxing or uplifting music in our home and car.
Being a parent is perhaps the most important and invaluable role we will ever have. However the work/family juggle often means our attention is drawn away from our kids, which can leave them feeling unheard, unsupported and unloved. Every positive habit and activity we can add back into our kid’s day, and every extra moment spent giving them our full attention, helps to show them that their world is safe, happy and a place worth being in.
For more information and tools to help your kids with their anxiety, join our Positive Mindset Challenge at www.yourhappyplace.org.nz