What comes to mind when you think of a “safe place?”
Your room growing up? A tree house? A favorite book or movie? Is it connected to a feeling, food, or friend?
Everyone needs a place where they feel invited and secure. A place where they belong.
I had the privilege of attending a conference a couple of years ago where I was introduced to Dr. Kathy Koch (“Cook”). Her seminar on the 5 Core Needs rocked my world.
This information wasn’t like the other seminars I had attended like: How to Homeschool with Toddlers or Struggling Readers. No the information Kathy shared went to the very heart of why it is the highest calling to be a parent.
I have the greatest influence on my children.
Whether their needs are met by me or someone else, I am accountable for them. At the end of the day, how I raise my children – the choices I make for their education, recreation, entertainment, etc. – will either feed them or starve them.
For weeks after the seminar, I observed my children. I took note of their personalities, the highs and lows of their days, their interests, and what got them excited. (Did you know that you can learn a lot about how your child is gifted by watching what they do when they become excited. Say something surprising happens – grandma stops over unexpectedly with a gift, they get a letter in the mail, or a friend calls to invite them for a playdate – the first thing they choose to do after receiving this often tells me what makes them feel the most alive.)
The reason I wanted to take the time to make my observations was so that I could best teach them. I felt like I had been failing them. I was forcing a curriculum that was boring, or I did understand their natural strengths.
The initial main goal was to figure them out. Graph their needs on paper.
And this I did. It was phenomenal. I saw my children in a whole new light. I started reading How Am I Smart, and saw just how the definitions of “word smart” or “picture smart” revealed the inner strengths of my children. I was constantly telling my husband about our children’s behavior and how their behavior fit into this new philosophy of nurturing them. I was with them and for them. They were fascinating to me. I was loving how much I was learning and discovering. It was like a whole new world of understanding was within my grasp.
They were blossoming quicker it seemed as I spend more and more time studying and encouraging them with my new found love of learning them.
They loved it too.
I was becoming their safe place.
And over time, I realized that my initial goal was based on the wrong desire. Sure teaching my children is important – very important as a homeschooling family – but loving them, securing them, and allowing them to feel like they belong is so much more important.
How do I know that I’m their safe place? Because for my oldest that means being ready to receive her expressions at any given moment. She needs permission and space to pour out her creative passion for life. My middle needs my ear. He needs to be able to tell me anything at any time. He feels safe knowing that I want to listen. And my youngest needs to hug. He shows that he feels the most safe when wrapped up in my arms. It’s the first thing he does in the morning, and the last thing he does at night.
So how can you become your child’s safe place?
Here’s 4 ways to start focusing on building belonging:
- Always be happy to see them even when days are long and nights are short. Think about your facial expression. My husband is a great mirror for me with this because it is not natural for me. Think about saying “I care about you” with just your eyes.
- Affirm them in their gifts and talents. We all need reminders that we matter to our loved ones. Someone who shows me they are happy to see me boosts my satisfaction with myself and strengthens the bond of our relationship.
- Earn their trust by meeting their needs (affection, food, fun, etc.) Meet their physical needs consistently. Don’t make them ask for everything. And don’t wait for them to tell you what their needs are. Study them.
- Train their wants by doing life with them. Addressing their desires head on – do not trick, lie, or avoid their requests. Again, meet their needs, but don’t confuse them by always giving in to their wants. This doesn’t help them feel safe; it can make them feel too much responsibility. A child who behaves as if they are entitled to all their wants is actually more unhappy than a child who has a healthy view of their wants in light of their needs being met.
So did I figure my kids out? Yes and no. I’m still learning. I did chart their strengths and smarts. But more than that, I fell more in love with who they are, and they noticed. Our bond has grown deeper and our sense of security more sure.
Monday’s Mindset is: It’s worth the work to be their safe place.
There is an affiliate link in this post. Also, if you know me personally be on the lookout for more information coming soon! With more family pictures too. 🙂