Does your child feel safe?
The New Zealand government’s Child Youth and Family Website states: “When children feel safe and secure, they learn to trust other people. Children who don’t feel safe can be anxious and unhappy. This can affect their health and learning. But when they learn that they can trust the adults around them, it helps them grow up happy, healthy and to enjoy the world around them.”
Can you remember what it was like to be a child? Everything is new, every bump in the night is a monster, and every crawly insect is after you. Parents need to be sensitive to their child’s genuine fears and act as protectors and guardians.
Love, love, love
Affection is number one. It is fine to hug, kiss, cuddle, rumble, look into their beautiful eyes, have meaningful talks and hold hands with your child. Such physical contact, when offered from a place of love and respect, shows your child that they are special to you and this makes them feel safe. Steve Biddulph, in his best-selling book Raising Boys, discusses how boys need just as much love and gentle attention as girls do, and all children need love from fathers just as much as mothers to give them a solid foundation for happiness and self-worth in life.
Listen and honour
When you child shows fear, stop what you are doing, get down to their level and find out what is worrying them. “What is upsetting you? Can you show me what it is? Why does that person worry you?” Only by stopping everything, maintaining eye contact and listening will you learn what is deeply concerning your child. This consistent demonstration of empathy assures children they can open up to you and you will listen. Then honour their feelings and understand that this situation is something they haven’t had to deal with before and they are trying to find a way to feel safe. They need you to show them how.
Children love to hear your stories. Think about what you would do in a similar situation and talk them through how you deal with being scared. Your child needs to learn some tools of survival and they are looking to you to help them. Tell them how you call on angels to protect you or surround yourself with white light. Maybe you pray. This can be the opportunity for you to explain the need to listen to their feelings and follow them. If something doesn’t feel right, then get out!
Your child may be small but they understand great things. Speak from your heart and respect them as a person. Always include your children in your conversations with other adults and talk to them like a person, not a baby. “I understand you are scared, we will find something that makes you feel better. You are so brave.” The answer will be different for every child; you need to follow your heart in each situation and come up with a solution that makes you both feel good.
Tools to cope with fear
Your child will naturally feel fear at certain times in their life and will need tools to deal with that fear when it arises.
1. Connection to spirit
Guiding your child to converse with spirit every day builds feelings of belonging and connection. Spirit can be whatever resonates with you and your child, such as God/Life/Universe/Angels. Start by asking what they want to give thanks for today including people, food, animals, gifts etc. Then ask them if they want to ask for help with anything. “Please God help me to be brave.” You may need to offer guidance as they learn to structure their requests.
2. Introduce them to their protectors
From birth, everyone is surrounded by a host of divine help that they can call upon for protection, guidance and support. By introducing children to their support system, you are empowering them with their own personal army. It is up to you and your child to figure out which type of heavenly protection they feel most connected with: angels, fairies, animal guides, ascended masters, God, Archangel Michael etc. For a scared child, knowing a fierce Lion (animal guide) or Archangel Michael stands beside them will help them feel brave — and knowing they have angels they can call on when they need help will make them feel connected and loved.
3. Positive affirmation
Every word of love and safety you offer your child creates a world of love and safety in their mind. You can never say too many beautiful words to your child. Loving words should flow continually to your child’s ears. Try offering loving affirmations just before you turn off the light at bedtime and watch your children go to sleep with smiles on their faces because they feel safe, loved and special:
“You are so loved.”
“You are surrounded by people who love you: your family loves you, God loves you and life loves you.”
“You are so special … kind … smart … confident and capable. Mummy loves you very much and gives thanks everyday for you. You are a gift.”
Children can use affirmations to help themselves feel safe too:
“I am always safe and protected.”
“I am surrounded by people who love me.”
Visualisation helps children to see themselves as being safe. What they think and see most is what they will come to believe. Visualisation can be a casual everyday activity that comes from your regular thoughts but you can also help create a safe mindset by guiding your child through visualisations like these:
1. Rainbow from my heart to yours
“Imagine a beautiful rainbow of red light flowing from my heart to your heart (touch your heart and then in an arc-like movement move your hand to their heart). Now imagine a beautiful orange rainbow light going from my heart to your heart (repeat the hand movement). Can you feel your heart filling up with colour? (Smile at them.) Now there is yellow light and then green light, then blue, then dark-blue indigo, and finally a beautiful purple light. Can you see it? There is now a beautiful rainbow from my heart to yours. We are always connected. If you ever feel scared, just imagine the rainbow between our hearts and know that I am with you.”
During the day when my daughter looks at me, she often touches her heart and sends a rainbow over to my heart. This always melts my heart and I know we are connected in her mind.
2. Beautiful white bubble of light
“Lie down sweetheart and imagine all around you there is a beautiful white bubble of light. (Arc your hand all around them to show the protective shape.) Whenever you say “white light” this magical white bubble of light will instantly form around you and nothing can ever get inside to harm you. Look, here comes an aeroplane (move your hand as if a toy aeroplane is flying towards the bubble). Crash! (Your arm falls to the bed), the aeroplane bounces off your bubble, it can’t get in. Is there anything else that scares you? A monster! Ok, here comes a scary monster (become a ‘not so scary’ monster and walk towards the bubble, getting blown out of the room when you come in contact with the bubble). The monster can’t get you in the bubble. You are safe in the white light. Can I come into your bubble too? (Let them invite you in and don’t go in until they have said you can come into their bubble.) Thank you my sweet one, now I’m safe in your bubble too. It’s nice in here isn’t it? Do you like it?”
You can make reference to the bubble every night as they go to sleep. “Goodnight beautiful, do you have your bubble around you? I love you. You are safe and loved.”
Children can also surround themselves with white light whenever they are scared during the day to protect them from people, situations and the unknown.
Protecting personal space
It’s wise to affirm early on that a child is the one in charge of his or her body, and that their body shouldn’t be used against their will to please other people. Not even to hug or kiss a relative if they are not ready for that. That can be hard and it can hurt some feelings, but it’s an important practice. A child learns from this that it’s ok to follow their gut instinct and if it doesn’t feel right to have physical contact, then it’s ok to say NO. Children will eventually offer contact when they feel safe and can trust a person. As a parent you want to know that your child will only accept physical contact with someone they trust and love.
The greatest way to make your child feel safe in life is to introduce them to their connection with something greater and then love, love, love them. Teach them that divine help, support and protection is always within them and that you will stand by them every step of the way.
Holistic life coach and mindful parenting educator Dr Joanne Mensforth produces much-loved meditation CDs for the whole family.