Creating a sense of safety and particularly a safe place is something that can support all ages including children in managing emotions particularly trauma and anxiety. A sense of safety is different for everyone and this can be a starting point for engaging in this conversation for children. Including asking them what their understanding of safety means, what do they need to feel safe, and what it feels like physically and emotionally to be safe. Here are four ways to support exploring your child(ren)'s safe place:
1. Reading a visualization of safe place. I will create a recording for next week's post.
2. Having child draw their safe place, or build it out of clay.
3. Having child build safe place out of blankets, pillows, chairs, tables, and craft materials (pompoms, feathers, etc.), and adding things inside their safe place that help them feel safe.
4. Combining components of the above, and creating your own version.
With the safe place ideas above I encourage adapting them for the child's age range and abilities. I hope you enjoy supporting your child in their explanation of what safety means for them!
A colleague had passed along this video resource to me called Being-With and Shark Music, and I felt it to be insightful and valuable for parents to understand what happens in the emotional dynamics between parent and child. It speaks to the importance of awareness of our past experiences with emotions, which the video calls "shark music". And discusses how to support children's relationship with their emotions.
With back to school one week in, the morning routine and getting out of the house is often an area most parents comment on including some of the challenges they face. Whether motivation for the child to get out of the door with protests of not wanting to go to school, to children who go at their own pace which can feel like a snails pace, to the children who get distracted with each task, and all the in between.
I came across this article about reframing our idea of morning routine last week from Aha Parenting, and felt it was a nice refresher to draw from. The article speaks to getting to bed earlier, and I think this one is particularly important for parents and children, as things go a lot smoother when we have more energy in our "tank". We all have areas that could use a bit of extra attention and mindfulness, to allow us the ability to take a step back to reflect and assess best next steps. I hope you can draw some helpful pieces for you to integrate with your own family!
With many children heading back to school later this week, I felt information about supporting this would be helpful for some families. Here are four tips to support your child:
1. Prepare your child for the day
Including schedule, recess, lunch time, snacks, who their teacher is and eventually speaking to what their teacher is like and how they support them, friends in their class. Helping children feel prepared gives them a better sense of control which typically eases feelings of anxiety and being nervous.
2. Allow for all feelings
Giving your child the space to share their feelings about the day. Acknowledging and validating your child(ren)'s feelings can go a long way.
3. Providing downtime
Having set time after school for your child(ren) to unwind and self-regulate after a day of taking in so much information through the various senses can have impacts on the rest of the day and the following one. Activities may include outside time, playing with friends, various forms of art including dance and drawing, sand play, and water play.
4. Look forward to things
This can include what they are looking forward to this weekend, or even the next day at school. Having something enjoyable to hold onto helps to get through more difficult times. When they are able to identify what they look forward to at school, you can help them build on their capacity to be in the moment mindfully which can allow opportunities to refuel and manage more challenging parts of the day.
With school returning back next week, and all the emotions with the summer ending and transitioning back to school I felt this article was helpful to keep in the "back pocket" with the upcoming time ahead. Start of school is transition for the whole family including parents which is why it is so important for self-care all around to ease the transition. With any big transitions or increasing in emotions, there can be breakdowns or "changing of flight paths" as the article refers to. Any time we get off track as parents it is important to have self-compassion for ourselves and all we hold space for, and to also have some tools to reconnect and show the self-regulation skills we hope for our children to develop. With that, I hope the transition back to school goes well for your family!
I am a Registered Psychotherapist and Art Therapist. And I have been writing this blog since May 2021 about various topics including parenting, supporting adult and child mental health, and holistic approaches. The intention of this blog is to provide resources and information to others, however it is not intended to take the place of therapy. If you have any questions about anything written please reach out to me.