Having a secure family and home is important for your child’s resilience. A home should feel safe, with people that treat you warm and sensitively. All families have their difficulties. Relationships and finances, among other hardships, can make life in the family home tense at times. If a young person doesn’t feel secure and safe, it can make their ability to cope with daily life and challenges more difficult.
As a parent or carer try to be aware of when your own adversity may be having an impact on the home environment. Observe how your children are responding to it.
Feeling secure is not just about the family and home environment. It can also be about the community you live in and what else is happening in the world. Some children and young people can be impacted by the adversity and perceived threat that their community may bring. Things like crime and local media stories can negatively impact a young person’s feeling of security.
Maybe your children would benefit from you acknowledging that there has been arguments or tension in the house recently. You don’t always have to focus on the issue, particularly if it isn’t appropriate to do so. Perhaps you can provide some time out by suggesting a family game or movie night. If there has been a lot of focus on negative behaviour, consider talking about what you appreciate about each other. For younger children activities such as ‘Grateful Tennis’ can be positive.
Grateful Tennis exercise
The following can be done in the car, at the dinner table, or anywhere that (all or some of) your family is together:
Ask the question…
Take it in turns to say something you are grateful for. It can be something that happened during the day. For example, a good lesson at school, or something that made you laugh. It could be something like…
Encourage everyone to try think of three or four things they are grateful for. If a family member is struggling to answer, don’t put them under pressure. You may want to have a private conversation with them after just to check they are okay. We all have bad days when it is hard to see the positives.
Remember to listen to everyone’s response. Don’t comment. It is an appreciative listening exercise.
The aim of the exercise is to focus everyone on the positives in their lives and to listen to each other. It can be useful if you have a child that is experiencing and verbalising lots of negative experiences or feelings.
Do not use it as an immediate response to a negative statement. Make it part of your school commute a couple of times a week, or at family meal times. Whatever works for your family and the age of your children.
Make it okay to talk about feelings, both good and bad. Acknowledge that family life can be testing. Explain that it is okay to talk about the stresses this can cause. Ensure that this is always done in a respectful and positive way.
You can find help and resources to improve your family and home situation on the MindEd website.