As a parent, you want your child to be healthy. That’s why you take them to regular checkups with their doctor, feed them a balanced diet, and get them to bed on time. However, a lot more goes into maintaining their health beyond just meeting their basic needs. To raise emotionally healthy children requires intentionally approaching your child with a desire to help them grow into independent adults.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some simple tips to help you raise an emotionally healthy child.
Work On Your Emotional Issues
Children learn more from what you do than what you say. If you model emotional health, your child will then learn how to navigate the world with an understanding and control of their own feelings. On the other side of the coin, if you are carrying around heavy emotional burdens and in denial about it, your child will pick up on that and learn that they should stuff their emotions down.
Keep in mind that your child has never experienced these emotions before. They need someone to teach them what they are, how to tolerate them, and how to talk about them. The best way to do this is by modeling this behavior. Don’t hide how you feel about you feel in an effort to protect your child because this will only confuse them. Be honest with them about how you feel in an age appropriate way. This will communicate that they don’t have to be responsible for your feelings, and models for them that it is normal to have emotions.
Create a Safe Space
It’s imperative that your child is able to trust you with their feelings, whether they are coming to you to confess a wrongdoing or to ease a heartbreak. Beyond modeling a healthy emotional world, you can build trust by reaffirming repeatedly that they can tell you anything, even if it might upset you. Remember, actions speak louder than words — you can say it all you want, but the moment they come to you and you react poorly, that teaches them that it is not true. Follow through by thanking them every time they are honest with you, even if you don’t like what they have to say. Consistency is key.
Teach Them Emotional Awareness
Teach your child that it is important for them to tune in and identify their feelings. Help them to identify what they are feeling by teaching them to be aware of what is happening to them when they feel a certain emotion. For example, when they are sad, ask them where they feel it in their body. The earlier they can learn how to identify their emotions, the quicker they will be able to emotionally regulate.
As hard as you might try, sometimes children need additional support for their emotional health. Whether they are experiencing a mental health condition, grief, or need a neutral third party to turn to, they may benefit from seeing a child counselor in Prairie Village. Contact us today to learn more.