Felt Safety

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat. In previous writings, I have detailed my fear of swimming in water where I was not able to see my feet. What is swimming below me? Is it going to bite me? Am I only moments away from being in pain? From what I have read, this is actually a fairly common fear.

I feel like my fear is completely rational. What if there is a snapping turtle crawling around in the water below where I am at? I don’t want to lose my toes. Of course, this is rational… or is it? One thing that I have discovered recently is the difference between what is actually safe and what we perceive to be safe. Our perception of safety is often referred to as “felt safety”. This gives us a better understanding of why children will be terrified to go into a dark room when we know good and well that there is nothing to fear there.


Simply put, they do not feel safe.

I don’t feel safe going out into murky water.

It is incredibly important for someone to feel safe. Heck, I would go so far as to say that it is just as important for someone to feel safe as it is for them to actually be safe. This hits home when it comes to working in a residential care facility. I have had a lot of kids live in my home in the past few years.


I have had a lot of kids live in my home in the past few years. Many of them transition fine. They start getting to know the other boys. They begin to get close to my family. They feel safe where they are. However, this is not always the case. There have been some boys who are noticeably on edge while they are there. They have trouble sleeping at night. They are suspicious of my wife and I or of the other boys.

What causes this?

It can be a plethora of things. Maybe it transfers over from their own home. Maybe this is the first time they have been away from their parents. There are an unlimited number of reasons that a child might not feel safe where they are.

Here’s where it might hit home for you. This problem is not just a residential care issue. This is an issue for all people. How safe do you feel at any given time? Better yet, how safe do your children feel? Have you created a home where your family feels safe and protected? Or, is your home a place where your kids feel threatened? Is your home a place that your kids try to avoid?

Because, and this is a hard truth, if they do not feel safe with you, they will start seeking out safety and security with someone else.

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