A circle of safety

Creating a circle of safety is essential for healthy communication with your children. However, what does it mean to “create a safe space?”  This phrase is a familiar buzzword in our communities, but how can you connect this concept with your family values and create safe communication guidelines for your children to use both in and out of the home?

A Safe Space Will Always Be Guided By Your Family’s Core Values

As we shared in our last post, establishing your family’s core values is essential for developing a healthy dialogue with your children and helping them discover how these characteristics will shape their own identities. If togetherness is a core value for your family, a safe space could be a conversation with your child while you are making dinner or catching up with your children during the drive to school. A safe space also includes creating set routines and times for you to talk with your children. You can develop that time in the morning during breakfast, in the evening when you pick them up from school, or at night before their bedtime. Beyond creating the time for safe spaces, you can also establish physical spaces for conversations such as your family room or the dinner table. The important thing is for your children to know the values, times, and spaces for when they can be comfortable talking with you. 

Who Can They Trust?

Your children also need to know who are the trusted members of your family and community. Your children should always know which adults they can confide in when you are not there. You certainly don’t want to create unnecessary fear or doubt for your children, but you can affirmatively share with your children about the adults that you trust in your own circle of safety. You can say something such as, “Ms. Diana and I have been friends since high school. She has always been very supportive and helpful to me. If I’m not around, you can always give Ms. Diana a call.”

Building the Foundations for Their Future

Once you have established how you will create safe routines, spaces, and communities for healthy communication with your children, these practices will lay the foundation for the harder and more critical conversations in their lives. Once your children know that they can rely on you to be open and authentic with the everyday concerns in their lives, it will be easier for them to talk with you about harder topics such as bullying, sexual identity, or peer pressure. Those tougher conversations become more manageable when your children know that they don’t have to face their challenges alone. When those difficult conversations arise, let your children know that you will hear them out fully and give them the space to think about their own solutions.

Be Present—Not Protective or Pushy

If your child needs to take on a more challenging conversation with a peer or another adult, create the safe space for them to practice their communication with you. Give them feedback on how they can express themselves openly and authentically. If your child does not feel safe taking on a tough conversation, offer to be there with your children when they talk with the other person. You don’t have to take on the challenge for them. Creating a safe space for communication doesn’t mean shielding your children from conflict. However, sometimes just being present (and knowing that they can trust you for support!) will give your children the confidence they need to speak up and share their point of view.

Safe spaces will look different for every family. The important quality of any space is that your children feel comfortable in their environment and know that they can rely on you and the trusted members of your community to share and hear the matters on their hearts and minds.

 

How have you managed to create a safe space in your family home? Can you share any stories about how it helped during critical times during you or your children’s lives?

 

Feature image courtesy of Unsplash, Annie Spratt.

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