These 3 Things Will Create a Sense of Safety for Your Kids
These are scary times for all of us but especially for our children.
Posted Aug 25, 2020
There is no magic wand to help you raise happy and calm children — especially in the midst of a global pandemic. But what if I could guarantee that if you incorporate these three steps into your life, your kids will whine less, have fewer temper tantrums, and even sleep better?
You may read these suggestions and say, “I know I should do this but this is too hard to do,” “You don’t know my kids,” “I don’t have time,” or some version of these phrases. It’s true that adopting new practices into our daily lives has a learning curve. But after working with over a thousand kids, I have learned that what our kids need most is to feel a sense of safety — both physically and emotionally. Taking the time to make sure our kids feel safe is something we all can and should do.
The three things all children need to feel safe is routine, structure, and a loving touch.
Help your kids create a daily and weekly routine that is detailed. Include times for wake-up, meals, study sessions, physical activity, and even time to learn a new hobby. I also urge parents to employ their kids with chores and allocate time to fulfill them on the schedule. Having a set routine will allow your kids to have something to look forward to each day and will give them a sense of responsibility and help them learn time management.
Decide upon a specific number of hours your child can spend on screens for weekdays and weekends. While routine is important, it can be easily disrupted by screen distractions. Think about how much your kids are using their devices and what they are using them for. Oftentimes, social media and video games can be overwhelming and addicting. With our children lacking self-control with their devices, it is up to us as parents to help monitor our children’s screen time.
I suggest that children under 18 months do not use devices and children 10 years and under should not have more than two hours of screen time per day. For teens, most research suggests no more than two or three hours per day. I know this sounds hard but start with small goals. For example, start by not allowing devices in bedrooms at night and banning video gaming in bedrooms. Have TV watching occur in family spaces rather than on computers. The next step following the ban of devices in bedrooms at night would be to turn off electronics an hour before bed.
Now is a great time to build in a structure that helps your child get more sleep. Not only will they feel better, but they will also probably focus better on school work. A majority of children are sleep deprived which adds to an increase in anxiety and depression. Help enforce bedtime, a time at which children expect to be in bed so that they get into the habit of sleeping at that time.
Finally, incorporate a loving touch into all aspects of your child’s routine. After all the schoolwork, chores, and activities comes the time for the most important thing you can do — snuggle, hug, cuddle, give back massages, or do whatever makes you and your child happy. Children and teens need touch — it makes them feel secure, confident, loved, and safe.
Through routine, structure, and a loving touch, we can set boundaries and reap the benefits with a good long hug.