National Child Day is November 20 and the theme this year is The Right To Be Safe. Children have the right to be safe and to feel safe. Feeling safe isn’t a feeling we often discuss, with each other or with the children in our lives, If someone asks ” How are you?”, we hear fine, sad, scared, hungry but very seldom do we hear ” I am feeling safe.” But yet we know when we are safe and feel safe and so do children (with the help of their parents).
Over the past four months, we have had more than 500 children join us at the Children’s Reading Place, and I have witnessed children and families being and feeling safe in this environment. Their posture is relaxed, their faces are at ease, and they are engaged and comfortable. I have held dozens of babies, had dozens of toddlers take my hand and had dozens climb on to my lap for a story.
The Children’s Reading Place was designed to provide a haven where parents can let their guards down, a bit, and trust that potential dangers are minimal. But feeling safe extends beyond the built environment. A friendly, respectful voice and a sincere welcoming smile opens the heart and allows the stress to melt away. We greet each family at the door and welcome the children asking their name and then using it throughout the visit. I try to add to the parent’s comfort by giving them some context for the house and a description of how other families have engaged with the different rooms. They know they can explore the house and feel comfortable settling in the Canada Room, Greeting Room or Sunflower Room or just hanging out in the Community Room. The whale in the tub makes them smile, and when their child smiles with them, the parent/child attachment is strengthened.
Most days we act as hosts; answering questions, helping children up the steps, encouraging creativity and reminding kids not to slam doors or run. The house is an active place, and little ones have stumbled and fallen, but they have picked themselves up and looked to a parent for a moment and then ventured out again. The Children’s Reading Place is a place for children to be safe and feel safe. This month we have set up book display featuring this important theme and invite you to book a visit November 19, 20, or 21 to explore.
Be sure to share your experience on social media with #RightToBeSafe #NCD2017 #NationalChildDay