How Do I Know If My Child is Secure?

01/18/2017 03:59 pm ET

How Do I Know if My Child Feels Secure?

Devoted parents provide food, shelter, material needs, and of course love. But how do we know when our child feels secure? Security is the basis for trust and a strong parent-child bond.

Warning Signs of Insecurity

1. When your child has difficulty sleeping including falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night, and waking up irritable because of an unsettled night..

2. When your child has many fears that seem to pop up during the day and at bedtime. Rationally they may listen to your logic about imaginary monsters and intruders but deep inside they remain afraid.

3. When your child has anxiety about you going out for the evening and is left with a reliable babysitter.

4. When your child is clingy in new situations lacking the confidence to meet new children and feel free to join in and play.

5. When your child cries easily, overreacts at minor difficulties, and generally withdraws periodically without an obvious cause.

Each of these warning signs suggest your child feels anxious and not secure. If the anxiety is overwhelming professional help may be needed, but parents can help ease the child’s emotional burden.

Helpful Hints for Parents to Give Your Child a Sense of Security

1. Create regular routines throughout the day. During the week waking and sleeping times should be the same each school day.

2. Create evening rituals before going to bed that the child can depend on such as reading a story every night.

3. If a parent is travelling for work, let the child know in advance so they can absorb the expectation of change. Let them know where you will be and what you’ll be doing and make a regular time for daily contact. Make sure they know when you are returning.

4. Predictability is key. When schedules are complicated wall charts that spell out who is where and when that a child can read or see pictures of whereabouts that inform them give a clear sense of expectations on a daily basis.

5. When routines need to change for various reasons, always inform your child and answer any questions, so that the child feels secure.

6. Separation and divorce can’t be elaborated here but the basics are telling the children that they will always be taken care of, the marital schism isn’t their fault, and both parents will be in contact with them on a regular basis.

Basic security is needed for all children varying based on their stage of development. But clear expectations, predictable times with parents, trust in nonjudgmental listening to problems, and clearly stated feelings of love are significantly important. Sometimes with complicated busy lives, we forget that basic security is essential.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit Laurie at her website: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.

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