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Creating caring environments for young people

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Enabling Kids to Thrive

The environments we create for young people and children to rest, play and learn can hinder, or help them to thrive.

Young people benefit from emotionally and socially stable environments, and this has a big impact on their self esteem, confidence, connectedness, and their feelings of love, safety, and care.

On Helping Hands, teacher, Sarah Crawford; online youth worker, Kiran Skariah; and psychologist, Collett Smart, discuss the importance of creating safe spaces for children and young people, and identify the three main environments in which kids spend the majority of their time – at home, online and at school.

Collett reveals why it’s important for the family home to be a safe space where children feel loved and cared for.

“The home is the first place where children feel like they can belong … They’re just accepted … Our children can feel like, no matter what they do, they can be loved, and they can have downtime without pressure to perform for people.”

Kiran adds that, in his experience, children feel cared for when the significant adults in their lives take an interest in their passions. It’s something he strives to emulate in the online gaming environment he curates.

“They (young people) want to know that you care about their passions, the things that make them unique … when you do, it unlocks something in that young person.”

Simple curiosity, Kiran explains, creates a connection where there was a disconnect between a parent and child, creating a sudden, “Huh, my parent actually gets me!”

Sarah agrees and says it's also important for teachers and parents to make time, and have the patience, to listen to children throughout the day, asking us to place an equal priority on listening to children alongside working through our day’s to-do list.

“We have a crowded curriculum, and we have teachers who are trying to teach too much. Sometimes, as teachers, we can stop and not listen. But it is a wake-up call to teachers and parents that, really, kids need to be heard.”

Finally, Collett adds that the key for parents, carers and teachers is balance, saying that for young people to feel safe in any environment they need to feel loved, but the adults who they turn to should not expect or hope to be their best friend.



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