How To Create Safe Practice Spaces For Your Kids

It surprises me sometimes to see the impact we have on our kids as parents. There are times where we can be very demanding of them and they begin to feel like they cannot make mistakes with us.

What do you do when your kids make mistakes? Do you chastise them or are you supportive of them? Do you tell them there is a "right way" to do things and a "wrong way"? In those discussions, how often does their way happen to be the "wrong way"?

One of your roles as a parent is to parent is to provide a safe space for your kids to learn. This article will introduce you to different ways you can do that.

1. Have clear agreements

One of the easiest ways to create a safe space for your child is to create clear agreements with them. Make sure your kids know your expectations from them in certain situations. Let them know if they follow the agreement, there will be no consequences for them.

For example, one of our agreements with our kids is they can have bad grades at school but they need to tell us about them. We made it clear we will not punish them but we want to make sure they understand their mistakes for the next time. Not telling us about it though will have consequences for them when we finally find out.

What are the top three behaviors you would like to address with your kids? What are some of the agreements you can put in place with them to create a safe space for them?

2. Create opportunities to practice

When you want your kids to learn new or different behaviors find places for them to practice. For example, when my son started in his bowling league, he struggled talking to coaches. He would get mad because of advice overload but did not know how to talk about it.

I took the time to talk to him about it, gave him words to do it and sent him off to practice doing it. There were times where I had to go speak to the coach myself but I want him to try to do it first. I wanted him to practice because there were no high stakes in him doing this. It was a safe space for him to practice expressing his needs and frustrations.

What are some of the things your kids struggle with? How could you practice these things with them using things in your relationship?

3. Teach them to try, learn and fail

When you practice something you know you will not get it right the first time. It will be the same experience for them and you need to make it OK for them to mess up sometimes too.

When you create a safe space for them to practice, you can also use this space to test their limits a bit. For example, if you want to practice, teach them to negotiate with you and then work together to reach an agreement. Once the agreement is clear, tell them you want to try something else for kicks. Then, take the time to show them what they can do differently the next time they negotiate with you.

How can you use one of your existing safe spaces with your kids to allow them to grow and improve?

To learn more about Steffan and his work, visit

5/5/2018 7:00:00 AM
Steffan Surdek
Written by Steffan Surdek
Steffan Surdek is an in-demand leadership development coach and corporate trainer. He has always been driven to expand the notion of leadership to include each member of the team. As a widely recognized principal consultant, Steffan’s work has a strong business impact, helping reshape business cultures and guiding them i...
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