Being Calm in Your Child’s Safety Storm
When I was a kid I don’t recall ever being physically punished. In fact, I can only recall twice, when my parents actually freaked out on me. I remember those two times vividly. Once was when I decided at the age of 5 to hide in the clothing rounder at Sears while my poor mother called my name and searched frantically for me in the store.
The second time I was probably around 12 and my brother and I came home VERY late, way past dinner time, to arrive and see our father waiting for us at the end of the driveway. Both times you would think our parents would be happy to see us but instead they freaked out when we were discovered “safe” and then we got “swatted” (and to be clear here, these were not beatings or anything of that nature). I mean, what kind of crazy was this?? My otherwise calm, level headed parents had lost their calm? Rightfully so I suppose, thinking back on it. But at the time, I was SHOCKED.
Yet, I get it! It’s kind of hard to be calm when you are TERRIFIED about the safety of your child. Needless to say, I can understand why my parents were pissed and many, many years later, I still remember that rare freak out they had. I wasn’t traumatized by it (and to be clear, I still continued to do dumb kid stuff because I was a kid) but in those two instances I realized that I really scared them.
It is hard to remain calm when your child’s safety storm is raging.
As parents it’s difficult to not to feel the judging eyes of others on us. Keeping our kids safe is our #1 job, our top priority as a parent and the most difficult thing to do because, well you know. Kids.
Kids scare us.
Kids worry us.
Kids can have the potential to do epically stupid (AKA: Dangerous) stuff.
If we think about child safety, or God forbid Google ANYTHING, we easily scare ourselves.
Then when the safety storm begins to rage…we can sometimes lose it.
Looking back on my own childhood and for all the times I scared the bejeezus out of my parents, they remained calm an overwhelming amount of the time. Frankly, I am not sure how they did it. All this time I thought my Dad was the strong silent type but now I think he was practicing the ultimate poker face. The calmer they were, the more that I felt that I could come and talk to them about some things, (because let’s be real, no kid is going to tell their parents EVERYTHING). I would talk to them about things, which I am quite sure made my mom want to drink lots of wine and perhaps have a good cry or two but she managed to keep it together and for that I thank her.
Being the calm in your child’s safety storm can mean a lot of different things.
It may simply mean just being there for them, being a steady presence in their life. It can mean keeping your composure when they are asking you tough questions or testing limits (or your patience), being a good listener, not panicking when they make a major safety slip up and it can also mean holding the line when it comes to standing strong and clear on your family safety rules.
Danger can (and often does) look like fun to kids, they often make risky safety choices because whatever they are up to – it sounds like fun, looks like fun, it is marketed like fun, they are tricked into it or they are not thinking of the consequences. Sometimes they know exactly what they are doing, sometimes not. Their risky safety choices may be a result of other things happening in their lives. We learn to listen and investigate. We sometime have to listen more than talk, we have to research and reach out for help. We navigate these waters with our kids. Safety can feel like a storm, it can feel rough and scary.
Mistakes will be made, by both you and your kids. You may lose your cool. Hopefully, in the end, your kids will remember more of the calm times where they knew that they could continue to keep coming to you and talking to you about was happening to them. You will be the calm in their storm so they can learn to be the calm in their child’s storm later.
Kim Estes is the founder of Savvy Parents Safe Kids. She is a mom and a Child Safety Expert focusing on Sexual Abuse Prevention, Home Alone and Out and About Safety for Tweens. She loves helping parents keep their kids safe in todays modern world with practical tips and tools and without the scare tactics from Toddler to Teens. You can find more tips at SavvyParentsSafeKids.com