Creative Child

How to Raise a Secure Child During Times of Uncertainty

by Deborah Song

Raising a secure child amidst so much uncertainty might seem like a formidable task. But security is not the same thing as predictability, which is something parents can’t provide. What children need, and what parents can provide, is something called a secure attachment with a primary caregiver, according to Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper and Bert Powell in their book, “Raising a Secure Child.”

Every child is born programmed to latch onto at least one individual they can rely on to understand and respond to their needs. It’s vital to the emotional, relational and even physical health of a child. What British psychologist John Bowlby noticed after World War II, was that children living in orphanages were miserable despite being warm, clothed and well-fed. Bowlby deduced the problem stemmed from the one thing they didn’t have – a primary caregiver. Since the children had no one to attach to emotionally, they lacked a reliable source of reassurance, encouragement and comfort.

Without this secure framework, a child would face challenges forming future secure relationships. Furthermore, the stress caused by lacking this fundamental need could even cause a child to be susceptible to more illnesses, memory loss and being overweight.

So what exactly does secure attachment look like? Before you begin to feel the weight of the world on your already burdened shoulders, take comfort in knowing that it isn’t through perfect parenting. In fact, one of the best ways to raise a secure child is through the mistakes we make as parents. Here are five ways to form a secure attachment with your child.

1. Comfort through empathy. Children feel secure when they are allowed to feel, even when those feelings don’t always feel good. Feeling sad, nervous or angry are natural emotions. But children can’t feel safe to feel if their parents or the primary caregiver are unaccepting of these emotions. Discomforts around certain emotions are usually passed on from parent to child. So it’s important to identify what emotions are uncomfortable to you.

If your son comes home crying because he was scared on his first day of school, don’t immediately try to whisk those tears away. Instead, acknowledge his fears with a sympathetic face, reassuring words and gentle contact. Words like, “Oh relax, you were just nervous,” could make your child feel invalidated. A much more beneficial response would be something like, “It sounds like you were nervous on your first day of school, which is completely understandable.”

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