The Adults and Children Together Raising Safe Kids Program is founded on the principle that knowledge of child development helps parents be more effective managing their children and helping their children manage the world. Research has shown us that children typically do not report adverse experiences. They keep it to themselves when they feel threatened, bullied, frightened, and over whelmed. They want to figure it out for themselves and they quickly feel shamed by the ways that others treat them. In that scenario, feelings become facts and they believe they are wrong.
If a we do not know that our child feels intimidated, how do we help them make safe choices? There are a number of things that a caregiver can do. The most important thing is to listen and recognize that they won’t tell you right away or every time something is going wrong. Make time in the day to talk with your kids. It doesn’t have to be long. Let the child take the lead. If you talk with them often you will notice changes. Be aware of the ways in which your child shows emotions. Encourage children to label their feelings by taking the time to label your own in an age-appropriate way. Practice validating their feelings by telling them what you think they said until you get it right. It helps if you can do it in a neutral way that accepts the feelings; often we have feelings that we don’t want to have and that is okay. Feelings and actions are not the same thing. Children do not always know that. They have had too many experiences in which feelings go to action so quickly that the differences get blurred. It has happened to them and they have seen it.
Here is another resource on children and stress from the American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-children.aspx
What is your experience? How has managing stress kept your child safe today?
Practice peace, Kelly