How to Raise An Emotionally Healthy Child
How to raise an emotionally healthy child? Raising children is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. But it can also be one of the most stressful and frustrating. It’s challenging to know what to do or how best to do it, especially when you’re confronted with a child who doesn’t behave as expected-whether he’s too active, not active enough, gets into everything, won’t listen, or talk much. This blog post will show you how to raise an emotionally healthy child from infancy through adolescence-a happy and successful child.
As I share my ideas with you, I want to emphasize that nothing is more important than your child’s emotional health. This means all children – no matter how “perfect” they appear on the outside. There’s only one factor that determines a child’s success in life: How emotionally healthy he is at any given time. So the more you can learn about emotional health and how to achieve it, the better off your child will be.
For parents, identifying an emotionally healthy child means recognizing the following characteristics:
- Children have self-confidence
- Make good decisions
- Optimistic about their future
- Don’t get overly upset by setbacks or failures
- They’re resilient in the face of disasters, accidents, and illnesses.
This is not a complete list, but it does give you an idea of what to look for. If you can see these qualities in your child, then he’s probably emotionally healthy. If he doesn’t seem to have them now, keep practicing and modeling them until their part of his way of being.
Here are ten tips that will help you raise an emotionally healthy child from infancy through adolescence:
1. Listen Deeply to Your Child
This may be the most important tip on this list because good communication skills form the foundation for emotional health – both in childhood and throughout life! And listening is one of the best ways to promote good communication between parent and child. Unfortunately, we don’t listen as well as we should – especially when we’re under stress. So take time to practice!
2. Talk With Your Child About Emotions
Yes, you can give children tools for managing feelings without ever using the word “emotion.” You don’t have to say anything like: “This is when you get angry” or “When I feel like this, I’ll do…” Just regular conversation that includes words and phrases such as sad, scared, happy, afraid, mad, glad, etc., will help your child become more aware of her feelings earlier. That means she will be able to regulate them better, later on, giving her a lasting advantage over less emotionally healthy kids.
3. Help Your Child Become More Aware of Feelings
By recognizing expressions and body language. This is a huge issue for parents of children who seem overly active, too wild, or hyperactive. In other words, kids with ADD or ADHD will often have challenges distinguishing between emotions. So they may be thrilled one moment and enraged the next – without anything in between! Teaching them to recognize facial expressions and body language can help them better understand their feelings and others.
4. Encourage Your Child’s Creative Expression
When expressing strong emotion. That’s because we often lose our ability to handle intense feelings when they’re bottled up inside us. When that happens, it’s easier to explode in anger, depression (in teens), anxiousness, etc., than it is to experience some other, less intense feelings. This is why it’s so important to encourage your child’s creative expression when she feels angry, sad, afraid, or any other strong emotion. If you can keep the negative feeling from growing into a “mood disorder,” your child will be more emotionally healthy throughout life. (For more on this idea, see my blog post about emotional intelligence: The Pathway to Emotional Intelligence .)
5. Help Out With Household Chores
Depending on your child’s age, you might choose something as simple as helping her wipe off her wet paintbrush at an early age – or taking out the garbage when she reaches adolescence! Either way, you’ll be teaching your child how to handle frustration and chores in a constructive manner – which is an essential life skill.
6. Praise Your Child for Showing Good Social Skills
This might include tolerance of others, sharing, being courteous (to adults and peers), or simply saying “please” and “thank you.” If possible, point out these behaviors as they happen so your children will recognize the positive actions that go along with them.
7. Help Kids Develop Their Problem-Solving Skills
By playing games that require creative thinking. For example, I have found a big box of old buttons and string can easily keep a young child at play for hours! By allowing kids to figure out how to use these items differently, you’re encouraging them to think creatively when faced with challenges – which is a significant part of problem-solving.
8. Set Limits on Inappropriate Behavior
It’s imperative to set boundaries if your child has ADHD or a mood disorder since these challenges make it difficult for kids to monitor their behavior. For example, when my son was younger, his favorite movie was “The Fox and the Hound.” Whenever he got outraged, I would tell him: “You’re acting like Copper from ‘The Fox and the Hound.’ We can’t play together until you get better.” That always seemed to help! (For more information on setting limits with problem behaviors, see my article at ParentingGuru.com .)
9. Make Sure Your Child Is Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation makes emotional disorders much worse, so if your child is already having trouble with emotional regulation, sleep deprivation can make matters much worse! 10. Make sure your child has plenty of time for exercise. Exercise boosts mood and energy levels by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins. This helps kids who struggle emotionally to have more positive experiences – and achieve better outcomes overall.
10. Model How to Handle Strong Emotions Healthily
The best way you can do this is by verbalizing your positive feelings when you experience them. That’s because it’s easiest for our kids to learn from us what they should be feeling (or not) when sharing a specific emotion! So if you are sad, tell them that you’re disappointed or unhappy, but also show them how you’re working through it. If you’re laughing, tell them that you’re enjoying yourself and what’s so funny to make the mood more lighthearted. This is good emotional modeling for children!
Raising emotionally healthy children is no easy task. But with these 10 parenting tips, you’ll be able to teach your child how to handle strong emotions and develop the social skills necessary for success in life!