One of the most important things we can do for our children is to help them feel safe and secure. When children feel secure they are better able to make wise choices, connect with people, learn, and accept themselves. It can be challenging though for parents to know exactly how to create that sense of security for our kids. Today I’m sharing five ideas that parents can do to help their children feel secure, and ultimately thrive
Being secure means feeling safe, stable, and confident so that you are able to do what you need to do. People who are secure have a positive self-image, they can regulate their emotions, get involved in life, and are more likely to step outside their comfort zone and find personal growth. A secure person is unlikely to be overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, or self-doubt.
I am sure that is something you want for your kids. Unfortunately, there is an increase in childhood anxiety which is really hard to pinpoint a blanket cause for, so today I’m addressing 5 things you can do that will increase your child’s sense of security – but please if your child is already suffering anxiety these things are only part of the picture of getting them back to a place of confidence. There really is no quick fix, nor is there one fix for all.
That being said, these five things are certainly a part of creating a safe and encouraging environment for your children to grow in confidence in who they are.
1-Have a Healthy Marriage – and Let your Kids see it
The relationship between mum and dad has a deep impact on our kids. The harmony in that relationship speaks to their soul, as well as creates a very tangible atmosphere in the home. Our kids have emotional radars – they know when things are good, and when things are shaky and it will impact them.
The key isn’t to cover it up so they don’t know – the key is to go and get help if your marriage isn’t doing well. You need to have a healthy relationship for your sake, and the kids then benefit.
Four things I want to mention about letting your kids see that you have a loving, functioning, healthy relationship:
- Enjoy spending time together – talk, laugh, and do things together (as a couple)
- Be affectionate towards each other – the kids might say they are grossed out when you kiss in the kitchen but secretly, they love it!
- Care for each other’s needs, with a loving heart. We say love is a doing word – so we need to be doing. Doing practical things that show our spouse that we love them, notice them, and care for them. Our children will notice our care.
- Process conflict resolution in front of your kids – especially if you argued in front of them. We tend to argue in front of the kids, because stuff just accidentally slips out and all of a sudden we are arguing, then we come to our senses and take it to another room so our kids see us arguing and then they see us being okay – but they don’t see the conflict resolution, the conversations, the apologising, the forgiving. So there needs to be times when you let them see how you work it out – not just that you have worked it out.
And for the single parent, you must find things that keep you secure and healthy. It may look different but it is the same thing really. You are the center of your child’s world, and if you are secure and happy then they have a kick start to be as well.
2-Have Consistent Expectations and Follow Through
When we are consistent with our expectations our children feel like they can do the right thing, or if they don’t know how they feel confident that they can learn. They know what is expected, and why, and it is the same every day.
Alternatively, when we parent – or give directions or corrections based on our feelings our children have no baseline. What is okay one day will make us flip the next day.
When our standards, or expectations and follow through, are inconsistent we leave our children wondering both what they really need to do, and if they’ll do enough to keep you happy. This is a recipe for insecurity!
So think before you give an instruction. Know why it is important. And be available to follow through because the more you teach your children how to do something, and praise them for doing it well or help them do better in a calm and patient way – the more confident they will be to keep on trying and face new tasks.
3-Have Routines that your Child can Depend on
Routines play an important part in creating structure and reliability or familiarity in a child’s life that can help them feel secure. When you repetitively do the same thing day in and day out, a child can flow through their day and know what is expected of them – which means they have less uncertainty to process and worry about. It also means you have fewer points of conflict and tension which also helps their sense of security.
Of course, you have to get to the point of a workable routine which is a process where you will likely have to deal with a child’s willfulness and disappointments (all the big emotions) but it is worth pushing through and establishing certain times in your day that are consistent.
This will help you as the mum too – because as you set out a routine you will determine what is important to include in your day, and how you are going to fit it all in. Of course, there will be interrupters – that is to be expected – but on a whole, you can think through how to best use your days, and when you know that it will help you be calmer and help your child be more sure of themselves.
So a routine is certainly something worth considering if your child is feeling a little insecure.
4-Create a Family Culture that Values Relationship
Family is the first place where we have a sense of belonging, connection, and security. When we connect with people who share our beliefs, values, experiences, and practices our inner self is strengthened. We don’t feel alone which immediately helps us feel more secure and able to face the world. Our children will feel this too. When the family base is strong, when a child knows they are loved and accepted, supported and cared for then they start to form a positive self-image and identity, and they begin to have confidence in who they are and where they fit in the world.
A few quick ideas that will help you establish a family culture that values relationships:
- Spend time together just as a family – often. Meal times, family nights, camping or adventures outdoors, family holidays etc.
- Teach your children how to say sorry, and how to forgive
- Create the habits of loving the other person – or being others focused (I’ve been talking about the One Another verses and the Family Devotional Activity this month so I’ll link that again for you to download in the Shownotes) Our children need to know that their siblings are also some of the other people in their life they need to treat with deference.
- Teach your children how to have conversations with each other (the best place to start learning to have conversations is at the dinner table)
- Teach your children to be interested in each other’s interests. Not to do them together necessarily but to be curious about what excites their sibling and to support and encourage them.
When we establish family habits that put the other person first, and intentionally connect and engage with each other we create a family culture that is relationship focused.
5-Live in a Way that is True to your Faith
The world throws a lot of messages at our kids – land then they see the state of the world, it is a scary place. As adults, we need to have our confidence in our God – and bring every situation back to what is true. When our children see us doing that it gives them a framework to process their world.
Three ways we can do this – get these three ideas deep in your heart and then you’ll be able to share them with your kids, and help them to live by them as well.
- Objective truth. This is when we know that regardless of what is happening in my world (or in the larger world) God is God. Regardless of how I feel God’s word is true. It doesn’t mean our feelings or fears aren’t real, it means we take hold of every thought and bring it captive to God’s word which is the truth. We learn to line up our thoughts and feelings with the truth – the Word of God. We need to teach our children to do this. Help them to be able to do it. They may be afraid – but God is bigger, God is always with us, and He will help, guide and strengthen us to do what we need to do. This is true – regardless of what I’m feeling.
- Identity in Christ. Identity in Christ is a phrase that we might understand but we have to be able to explain that to our children. Our identity is basically how we see ourselves and we learn about ourselves from listening to our inner voice or listening to what other people tell us. But since God made us, He is the one who knows the most about us. So we need to learn to listen to what God says about us and we need to believe that as true. So as a parent, we need to teach our children both what God says about them, and help them to value His words over any other message they may hear about who they are and how they are to live.
- Love Mercy Grace – Our children need to know the Love, Mercy, and Grace of Jesus. Unconditional love – no matter what they do Jesus loves them. Unlimited mercy – no matter what they do Jesus forgives them. Unending Grace – no matter what they do Jesus (and His Holy Spirit) will help them.
To be honest, we are the hands and feet of Jesus – we too need to be showing love, mercy, and grace as we engage with our kids. Their insecurities may frustrate us, may overwhelm or confuse us – but this we can know. Jesus is there for us and there for our kids. As we show our children unconditional love, unlimited mercy, and unending grace – and as we draw from Jesus to do that – then our children will be able to meet that same Jesus for themselves and grow in their own relationship with him which will help them face their days with purpose and not fear.
Heart-focused Action Step
There is lots to work on in this episode.
First of all, assess where your children are at on a scale between insecure and confident. It always helps to know where our children are at – there is no judgment with that, it is just a fact: this is where they are at.
Then reflect on the five things I’ve shared today and think through which one you need to work on in your family right now. Just choose one. I’ll list them again:
- Have a healthy marriage – and let the kids see it
- Have consistent expectations and follow through
- Have routines that your child can depend on
- Create a family culture that values relationship
- Live in a way that is true to your faith
And if you are concerned that one of your children is struggling with insecurity I’m also going to suggest that you share this podcast with your spouse and ask him to have a listen so you can talk about how to move forward together.
Whether your toddler is clingy or your teen is anxious – we all ask ourselves – what can we do to help our child feel secure and confident. This week I share 5 things we as parents can do to help our child feel secure.
It is important to note that every child will process and display their emotions in different ways – so use your discernment and love for your child to help them process and move forward.
Insecurity about new situations is normal and we shouldn’t brush over it, but we can guide our children through it. So as we see more and more children suffering from anxiety – you must discern what is really happening. Are they insecure in this situation, or are they insecure at their core of their being and it is affecting every part of their life.
Please note – this is not addressing medical conditions of anxiety and depression but rather general parenting wisdom that creates an environment for children to grow and thrive in. If they need medical help – please get it for them.
Who you listen to as you work out your identity will be the same voices your child listens to.
Our identity is basically how we see ourselves and we learn about ourselves from listening to our inner voice or listening to other people. But since God made us, He is the one who knows the most about us. So we need to learn to listen to what God says about us and we need to believe that as true.
As a parent you have to listen to the right voices, and get rid of the lies if you want your child to know who they are and how they are to live.
What is a lie you know you have to walk away from in order to walk true to what God says?
Be more than a co-parent. Be friends, lovers, partners, and parents. Talk daily. But talk about more than the kids, finances and commitments. Take a screenshot so you can remember to talk about other things.
- Goals and Dreams
- Feelings and Emotions
- Experiences (past and present)
- Interests and Hobbies
- Beliefs and Values
- Insights, Thoughts, Questions
We need to have at least one connection time every day – face to face, no distractions, fully focused on each other.
We need to do this for our own benefit – but our kids will benefit too!
Objective Truth: Objective truth is something that you believe in regardless of how you feel. Jesus is my objective truth.
Christian Parenting is about Discipleship in the Family: As Christians we are called to make disciples; and our children are the first people we are to teach.
What does it Mean to be a Christian Parent: The truth about Christian parenting isn’t in the things we teach our kids but rather in how we respond. Do we respond as followers of Christ?