As a parent, one of your roles is to ensure that your children are as healthy as possible. This means caring for their mental and emotional well-being as much as you do for their physical.
Emotionally healthy children can recognize their feelings and process them in a healthy way that fosters good relationships between them, their friends, and their families.
This article will give you a brief introduction to emotional health in kids: what it is, and how you can help nurture it in your children.
What is emotional health?
Emotional health in kids is their well-being in terms of how they think and feel. It is also concerned with how children deal with major and minor life events.
You should remember that emotional health in kids doesn’t mean being happy all the time.
Tips for Developing Emotional Health in Kids
Here are a couple of pointers you can take to ensure that your children grow up to be as emotionally healthy as they can:
1. Give access to information
Children are growing and each day they encounter new things and concepts. They are also an inquisitive bunch and these questions need answers.
When you forbid your child from asking questions, he/ she learns that it’s wrong to do so.
Instead, allow your children to ask questions and try to give answers that will satisfy their curiosity just enough. This is one way to ensure emotional health in kids – to allow them just the right amount of information.
When they get older, they’ll become people who believe in their perception and are not afraid to ask questions when anything is unclear.
It is also helpful to teach your child about emotions as early as you can. You can use children’s shows and coloring books to help them see how certain emotions are portrayed. This way, they can recognize their and other people’s emotions.
2. Take note of behavioural changes
It will go a long way to pay attention to your child’s behavior and if you notice any changes, take the necessary steps. Do not ignore any notes from the child’s teachers and caregivers e.g. babysitters if they tell you that they have noticed some changes in your child’s actions.
The small behaviors that seem negligible might progress into even larger, more serious behavioral patterns that could be harmful to your child’s physical well-being too.
3. Validate your child’s feelings
In many cases, parents give little to no mind to their children’s moods and emotions. These feelings are usually blamed on development milestones that are characterized by the same, like the terrible twos and teenage angst.
These stages contribute to the change in moods, but there might be an underlying reason that causes them to act the way they do.
Show your child that you are with them as they work through their feelings. Also, try to let them know that what they are experiencing is valid and this will let them know you are with them and encourage them to be more open and honest with you.
4. Encourage open communication
Provide your child with space where they can come to you if anything is bothering them is one of the goals a parent can have for their children. This is done by offering a non-judgemental and encouraging space for them to express themselves.
Do not impose your thoughts and opinions on your child. If you listen and show that you are making an effort to understand what your child is saying, they will realize that their input and their opinions are valued and respected. This will help them in the journey of self-acceptance.
When having a conversation with your child, try to give them your undivided attention. Do not listen as you work on your computer, or play games and reply to texts on your phone. This might make your child feel like you are dismissing them.
5. Lead by example
As the parent and role-model figure, how you approach your emotions and deal with your feelings will have a hand in how your children work through theirs. If you have not decided to work on and improve your emotional health, it will be difficult to offer guidance to your young ones.
Avoiding your emotional health will easily lead to you avoiding those of your children. Look back on how you grew up and whether or not you learned how to deal with your emotions. Discovering where you went right and unlearning the behaviors that will be unhealthy to pass down.
Also, try to keep your emotions in check. Although situations tend to escalate quickly, try to always maintain your cool, avoid yelling or any violent behaviour. This, however, does not mean that you should put up a stone face every time you are with your children.
Showing when you are happy or upset will help them know that they are just as human as you are and that it is okay to feel things.
6. Teach your child how to cope with emotions
Sometimes emotions can get overwhelming, especially to children, who might be feeling a certain way for the first time. Teaching your child that it’s okay to have certain emotions and they shouldn’t be ashamed of them or try to pretend that they do not exist.
You should also give your child some knowledge on how to deal with their emotions. This could be by helping them find ways to control their temper, such as counting down from 10. you can also offer healthy ways of expressing sadness and grief, such as talking it out and making scrapbooks.
7. Set limits and boundaries
As your child gets older, they start to need more independence and space. By allowing your child some freedom and privacy, you show that you trust them and respect them.
This will help them learn how to set and maintain their boundaries in other aspects of their lives. It will also help them to be mindful of the boundaries of others around them.
With freedom, you should lay some rules and reasonable consequences. If you set too harsh consequences, this can lead to anger outbursts and resentment.
Also, if they are too lenient, they might not serve the purpose. Rules also create a sense of order and structure, which is essential in healthy child development.
So there you have it. With the tips outlined above, raising good, emotionally healthy kids should be a little easier.
While this is definitely not the magic script that you can use to see results overnight, it is a good place to start.