The tools that will help us reach our long-term goals are Warmth and Structure. They need to be present together, in all our interactions with our children – not just the challenging ones. Here, we will talk about Warmth.
We all learn best when we feel safe and secure. When we’re relaxed, we can listen, focus and think. When we feel anxious or afraid, it’s hard to focus on anything but our fear. We can see that happening to us as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens in many countries. It’s much harder now to focus our minds on anything but our worries.
It’s the same for children. When they feel worried or afraid, it’s hard for them to focus on anything else. The world outside has suddenly become a frightening place. The world inside needs to provide the security that children need to grow and thrive.
What children need is Warmth. This means ensuring that children feel safe, loved, listened to, and understood.
During the pandemic, when everyone’s stress level is heightened, it is even more important that we provide a safe space for children. They won’t feel safe if we use punishments like slapping, time-out or ‘consequences’ such as isolating or ignoring them, or taking away the things they love. Warmth is key to children’s sense of security – and it is even more important in times like this.
Love, security and empathy are key ingredients in resilience. They also build our relationships with our children and strengthen their trust in us. Warmth shows our children that we will be there for them when they need us, today and every day.
Warmth is one of two powerful tools that help us reach our long-term goals. The other tool is Structure. We can use these tools effectively when we are self-regulated.