Safe, nurturing care within the circle of family

Hello and welcome everyone :)

Be sure to read my previous blogs if you’re new to this page.

Continuing on with the 10 Resilience Blocks of Maggie Dent’s, today’s chat is about Building Block No. 3 - safe, nurturing care within the circle of family.

Allow me to quote Jo Jackson King from her book Raising the Best Possible Child (2010)

“A secure attachment happens when parents are able to be sensitive to their child’s cues, responsive to his needs and treat him lovingly. This pays instant dividends in both child development and also in behaviour.”

The clear message I’m receiving in researching for this blog is, attachment to their ‘big person’ is what gives a child a feeling of safety and security. It’s a baby/ child who has a healthy attachment to their parent that feels secure enough to explore their environment and is also able to form deep, lasting friendships later in life (a key element in building resilience).

I hear the term ‘separation anxiety’ quite a lot nowadays. Apparently separation can hurt children (even as old as 10) the same way as physical pain. Let’s get ‘sciency’(!) There is a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA plays an important role in behaviour, cognition, and the body's response to stress. I have read that GABA helps to control fear and anxiety when neurons become overexcited. Examples of this overexcitement are; separation from a parent, change of home, school or primary carer.

What can you do to avoid or manage a stressful situation such as separation anxiety?

This leads me to a very common saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I actually agree with this completely. We can observe different cultures who practice this all over the world. Some call it ‘extended family’. The Asian and European cultures practice this. Their system of a kind of circle around the children creates an environment of safety and security. The children know that any number of adults/ carers can be relied upon for love, care and play. This seems to eliminate any anxiety around separation for the child.

I realise that our culture is very different from theirs. Again, we have both parents working, various activities after school and on weekends. It’s busy so much of the time! We’re independent and working hard at forging successful, happy lives for ourselves and our children.

Apart from working part/ full-time, there’s always so much to do at home. The cooking, the washing and ironing/ folding, the cleaning, helping with homework, lawns, garden, walk the dog. On and on it goes! Where do we fit in time to just ‘be’ and let the kids just ‘be’ also?

It seems the way we live our lives creates separation, rather than connectedness with our children.

So, how can we create that village feeling? The ideal of course is biological family, but with the busy pace of life and work, what are the choices? A lot of you are able to create this ‘circle’ with grandparents, uncles and aunts, trusted friends.

What are the children needing from us adults to give them a sense of security? Strong connections, feeling seen, heard and loved unconditionally. Spending time in their world, at their pace. Even though there is so much pressure (be it real or perceived) to be just wonderfully efficient at everything, we have to take a step back and prioritise.

Walk past the pile of washing needing folding, put down your phone, ignore your emails for a while and go hang out with the kids. Take the time to see and explore the world through their eyes, really listen when they talk to you and ask questions. Spend time reading with them, laughing with them, hugging and kissing them. Everyone will be much happier for it.

Take your kids into nature (no screens, not too many toys). be sure that the area is safe and interesting and just watch your kids go and explore.

Finally, if you have extended family try to spend a good amount of time with them. As well as teaching the kids that they can rely on these folk as well as Mum and Dad, the children learn different things from extended family. It will broaden their perspective and knowledge and ultimately help their social skills.

Until next time………


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I love helping families feel happier! If you would like to chat about how I can help you, and you live in Melbourne, follow this link to my “Contact Me” page.

This piece is written with the intention of helping parents create happier and more resilient children and is subject to copyright. Please contact the author if you wish to publish elsewhere.