How to Raise Confident Happy Kids & Secure Children For Kids Self Esteem

I read a wonderful article which citied principles from Psychotherapist Kent Hoffman, co-author of Raising a Secure Child. He is both compassionate and inspiring. ‘Every person has infinite worth’, is one of his most majestic and beautiful quotes. When I listen to Kent talk about raising secure children, it makes me so aware of not only giving this love and presence to the children in our own lives, but also to our own inner child. He has written a wonderful summary about the interface of attachment research and spiritual life. You can find it here.

Essentially, he describes the importance of presence with children. When a child is graced with full attention and their feelings are honoured a space for them to develop as secure children is developed.

When we feel loved, supported and acknowledged we start to heal the wounds of our own childhood. We can’t expect our parents to have been perfect but we can learn to acknowledge the light that shines within us. You see often we grow up to feel unwanted, not good enough and wounded. I love how Kent acknowledges infinite worth. Because the truth is we are not wounded, we are simply witnessing life through our mind, not our heart. When we see the truth of ourselves, the truth of love within others, we heal our pain.

Kent is honest about negative emotions. About being real with our emotions, with judgments, comparison, etc. I think it’s revealing how when we see what we perceive as ‘truth’ we make room for change. If we Band-Aid our emotions or put up with the thoughts that we are terrified of, daily life becomes terrifying. But if we really look at it we see it’s just a thought and a thought can be changed. The other interesting point he makes is that most people deal with negative self-talk. If we could all learn to switch our minds off, what a happier world this would be. It’s like we are programmed negative affirmation machines and we need to change the programme to one of compassion for the self and others.

I’m honestly over reading articles about movie stars, models and moguls, about how they became successful. I feel this is a common structure of society where we try to grasp at success through wishing we could mimic others. How often do you read articles questioning someone’s level of happiness? When did success become defined by how much money we have? And how many people know who we are? Is it all driven by the lack of presence and love felt in our childhood?

Success to me is defined by how you feel in the present moment. By how much you are allowing yourself to question your present consciousness and being willing to let go of perceived negative belief. How you may ask does this relate to raising secure children? If we can’t love and approve of ourselves in the present or be willing to move in this direction, how can we extend this grace to our children?

‘I believe our need for intimacy is the manifestation of a universe ready to meet it. Our thirst for presence is map, not aberration. Neither is it failing or indication of something wrong with us. Our thirst for belonging is our greatest guide.’ – Kent

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all raised in safe and secure households? Where love was given generously, and it wasn’t a privileged gift when we felt acknowledged. Parents all do the best they can. We all do the best we can. First let’s take care of ourselves and learn to accept ourselves and then look at what makes children feel more secure.

Kent discusses how children need presence. Not the sort of presence where we are looking at our phones or sitting watching television in the same room. The presence where the grace of love is felt. Where we are there in the moment. Not reacting to what’s happening, but accepting. Kent says, ‘Like the air we breathe, presence isn’t a luxury, it’s an absolute requirement.’

Raising a Secure ChildHe highlights how, ‘Our unresolved past, just outside of consciousness, continually shows up, masquerading as the present’. I think this is the unfolding of spirituality and modern psychology. These acknowledgments show that to be free in the present we need to forgive our past and realise who we really are. Acknowledging that all that sustains us is love and divine grace. Secure children are gifted the knowledge that their mind can be the source of their suffering therefore as we learn to go beyond the mind or see through the veil we heal as both children and adults.

To me presence is being present. It comes to us naturally through the development of our own emotional response. Our ability to cut through illusion and witness the self as divine. To watch our lives through a state of grace. Bringing ourselves back each time we slip into fear, denial, pain, guilt, etc. Self-love makes it safe to be present. Self-acceptance brings us forward into the moment.

  • Secure children feel that they are supported and their emotions are accepted. We don’t need to react to sadness, fear, pain, laughter in a way that feels forced. If a child feels that the parent retracts or that the expression of their emotions are too much for their caregiver to handle they close up. This is why it’s important for us to simply be there. To be able to watch our own reactions and respond with love and support.
  • Absence at times isn’t a problem. It’s cultivating nurturing one-on-one time that’s important. Building relationships based on emotional presence.
  • Kent explains that predictable, steady and tender availability supports the raising of secure children.
  • ‘Our first relationships don’t have to be terribly bad in order for us to eventually feel both terrible and bad. Momentary cues for being with from an infant that go unrecognized by the caregiver – are not experiences that most of us would consider dangerous or severe,’ – Kent. However, it’s these relationships that go on to define our relationship with the world and ourselves in the future.
  • Infants monitor minute by minute cues with from their relationships. Facial gestures, tone of voice, posture, rhythm of bodily movements, intensity of gestures, dilation of pupils, level of comfort versus discomfort, etc. These cues literally teach the child how to be and act in the world. Thus to raise secure children it’s so important that as adults we create inner harmony which is shared in all our relationships.

Zen teacher Joko Beck describes how we abandon pain, yet it still haunts us. And how to heal our own childhood and adult pain we can all turn to meditation. His says, “If there’s an orphan in our lives, it’s our pain. Nobody wants their pain. We want it gone. That’s a big part of what meditation offers, no longer pushing pain away. Sitting, just being with this exact pain. Every moment is just another opportunity to stay simple and hold the orphan of our pain.”

I feel that honouring what we feel as adults and being willing to move through and express our emotions creates great healing for us as individuals. It also empowers our children as they learn so much from the adults surrounding them. Secure adults help to raise, secure children. The strength and open arms of divine grace is there for us all in each moment.

When we forgive ourselves and turn to the divine love that resides in our hearts the grace that manifests our physical form is found. In the moment by moment joy that can be found in the presence of now. The presence of that sacred space that holds our hands every step of the way.

This grace creates a sacred space for secure children. It lets us know everything is as it’s for a divine reason and that’s okay. We don’t have to know all the answers. We are being raised, all of us as children of the divine. This source, this presence is accessible in this moment. It gives us wings to fly and a sacred space to heal the wounds that seem to have grounded us into the perception of ‘this reality’ being all. When the only thing that is real is LOVE!

(Please note: This isn’t a sponsored post. I am simply deeply touched by Kent Hoffman’s wisdom and compassion.)

Secure Child