What kids need most when things are hard

22 July 2021

What kids need most when things are hard

Our school psychologist, Ms Ingrid Peters, gives some parenting tips for when things get hard within your family.

For every family, there are times when things get particularly hard.

Your family may be feeling the impact of lockdown, family changes, or going through a time of grief and loss. When these things happen, parents want to know how to best help their children.

Kids need YOU.

The research is clear that children need their parents and caregivers to be there for them. You do not need to be perfect - you just need to be you! Being the (flawed) person you are and taking time with your child is amazingly calming for them.

Dr Tina Payne Bryson talks about parents needing to provide the 3 S's for their children - safety, to be seen, and to be soothed.

3 things your kids need when times are hard

1. Safety

Kids need you to give them safety. This means that the way you express yourself needs to not scare or hurt your child.

Your kids need to know that YOU are a part of how they can stay safe.

This might include something as simple as organising hand sanitiser, right through to helping them think through a bullying incident, and in general being a safe person for them to talk to.

2. To be seen

Kids need to know that you see them. They want to know that you are able to emotionally understand what is happening for them.

You can do this by telling them what you notice. For example, "I can see that you are finding it hard to concentrate", or "you look like you are enjoying that". No judgement statement needs to be added, just let them know you see what is happening.

Connecting with your child is one of the most powerful tools for healing, growth, building emotional intelligence and resilience.

3. To be soothed

Kids need your help to be soothed. This could be an action, such as giving them a hug or sitting next to them. Or it could be how you talk to them, such as using empathy in the conversation.

These three S's help build a secure attachment between you and your child over time. A secure attachment builds connection, resilience and healing for your child in hard times.

Dr Tina Bryson has a 16 minute Youtube video, The Power of Showing Up, that explains these ideas in more depth.

What if I feel like I need more support?

If you feel like you need some more support in your parenting, there are lots of places you can get support. Consider contacting one of these services:

Parenting Helpline 1300 1300 52

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service 1800 512 348

For more information and practical tips about child development, have a look at the great resources on the Raising Children website. 

Ms Ingrid Peters

School Psychologist