Emotional Safety for Children

Emotional Safety for Children

Emotional safety is when you feel safe to be who you are, you feel safe to have emotions that are authentic to you, and you feel safe in sharing your feelings with others around you. Emotional safety often develops with your parent(s) first and can then later be developed with friends, partners, and colleagues.

As parents, we often think about physical and food safety for our children. We provide for our children in every way we can imagine. The art of raising a child in our ever-changing world can be confusing and difficult. We are also up against such busy lives as adults that it is easy to bypass some of the most important experiences for our children.

According to Psychology Today (2017), “When you feel emotionally safe with someone, your heart rate and respiration go down and even synchronize with the other person's. Perspiration, a sign of stress, is reduced. The muscles in your body relax. You’re likely to express more of your thoughts and feelings, both positive and negative. You can better tolerate physical pain when they’re with you.” Essentially, our bodies feel safe as well.

In addition to the physical responses, emotional safety shows up in our self-esteem, quality of life, and ability to express ourselves. We are more successful in our relationships with others because we have learned that our thoughts and feelings have value which results in more resilient people willing to continue trying when things do not go our way.

With children, we can build emotional safety by providing them with a space for sharing and connection that does not include negativity and judgment. Listening and responding in a way that is respectful instead of critical will build emotional safety for our children. We can promote emotional safety for our children in a multitude of ways.

Provide a safe space for any emotions without judgment or criticism. Model this for your children by talking about your emotions in the way you hope to see your children share. You might comment about working hard on a project and knowing you did your best instead of finding the flaws.

When mistakes are made, let children know you still love them and mistakes happen while working as a team to fix the problem.

Avoid any name-calling of children and show them respect even in difficult times which will send a message that they are important to you even when they make mistakes.

If age-appropriate, allow them to weigh in on family decisions and/or activities to show that you value their opinion.

Catch your child being good and make statements that let them know you see their strengths and use these examples to remind them about the things they are good at when they feel like they are not doing something well.

Any opportunity to model healthy emotions, support difficulties, and find strengths in your child can help guide your child one step closer to emotional safety in your home.


Wallace, M. (2017, October 10). Understanding children’s emotional needs. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-raise-happy-cooperative-child/201710/understanding-childrens-emotional-needs 

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