We can’t form a relationship with our youth until they feel safe, Darcy, Post Adopt Coordinator shares some tips on creating felt safety.
Tips for Creating Felt Safety
You know your home is safe. You have plenty of food in the fridge/cupboards and you keep some of your child’s favorites on hand. You keep your home clean and decluttered. You have plenty of seating for everyone and plenty of space to move around without any issues. You have been meticulous about introducing your child to your family and friends. All of these are great ways to ensure a physically safe environment. As a parent, you know your child’s needs will be met, and you feel you’ve taken a great start at providing a safe environment for your child.
You’ve done well with providing a physically safe environment for your child. However, it takes more than a physically safe environments for our youth from hard places to feel safe within our home. This need for felt safety is because our youth from hard places has experienced tough situations. They function more from the primitive part of their brain – the brainstem and amygdala. Because children from difficult places function from these primitive places, they might not communicate their needs effectively.
Parents can promote felt safety for their children. Parents can also learn as much as they can about the difficult histories their child has. Parents might not have access to the entirety of the youth’s trauma history, so it’s important to be attuned to the child and notice behaviors that may seem obscure. This may help parents to understand where behaviors and triggers stem from. Being attuned to a youth’s behaviors can assist parents in helping process tough emotions early to avoid a meltdown. Parents can also help their youth to put a name to their emotions. This can be done through a variety of ways, such as using a wheel of emotion or conversations about how the body feels when experiencing different emotions. This can help youth in becoming better at expressing how they’re doing. Parents can validate their youth’s emotions, even if the parent doesn’t fully understand. This allows a youth to feel like they’re not alone. Keep things concrete, such as routines. Unknowns can be very scary, and when youth know what to expect, they can feel safer.
Ensuring felt safety in a home doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time and consistency. Know that great strides can be made, as well as a few steps back. Be consistent. Be patient. Know the work being put in is well worth it!
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW