It is time for creating emotional safe space for children at home and in our society. In psychology, emotional safety refers to an emotional state achieved in attachment relationships wherein each individual is open and vulnerable. The concept is primarily used by couples’ therapists to describe intimate relationships. But the same is applicable to children at home like grown up adults.
An experience in which one feels safe to express emotions, security, and confidence to take risks and feel challenged and excited to try something new. Emotionally safe learning environments can be achieved by making social and emotional learning, an essential part of education.
Encouraging safe exploration is an important job for child care providers. Children are natural explorers and risk takers. They move quickly, put things in their mouths, drop or throw things, and love to climb and hide. Keeping children safe is crucial. But setting up an environment where you spend all day saying “Don’t touch this!” or “Stay away from that!” is not the answer. Instead of spending your time redirecting children, think carefully about how you set up the environment. Giving children the chance to explore freely in a well-organised and child-safe space is a much more effective way to manage behaviour and encourage learning.
Being present to your child’s pain and hurt, hearing the experiences that they have been, and are currently going through, can be challenging for you. It can bring up feelings of sadness exacerbated by feelings of powerlessness to undo their suffering. It might also connect you with other deep feelings, some of which you may not have realised were there — your own grief or experiences of loss; other painful experiences from your life; guilt and shame about past events in your extended family.
Finding safe and supportive avenues to face your own feelings and past experiences can be a very helpful strategy for you, which will also benefit your child. Contrary to popular opinion it can be an empowering process which increases your capacity to empathise and to strengthen relationships. The experience of really being listened to and having their thoughts and feelings validated is a powerful gift to give to any child. By creating a safe emotional space for your child you reassure them that there is a way through the emotional storm, and at the same time it strengthens your child’s capacity for emotional connection, healthy communication and trust.
Children thrive in families where the parents come together to love them and create a congenial atmosphere for them while staying at home. Again parents must draw clear boundaries for them to mingle with family members. Constant conflict, cold silences and hostile environment can be extremely damaging in the mindset of the growing up children. Children grow with greater confidence and better sense of self worth when parents are nurturing and very supportive in their daily life.
If children in your child care program are misbehaving, check to see whether the environment is contributing to the problem. Take a close look at your space, indoors and outdoors. Setting up a safe place to play and providing appropriate toys can keep children interested in learning, reduce behaviour problems.
Therefore, our homes needs to be like sanctuaries, where children can be given space, just to be who they are and where they can be accepted with all their frailties and weakness. And, that environment offers the real emotional space for children to mix with others well.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)