Parenting can be challenging. You’re constantly trying to balance work, friends, family, and your own needs. Throw in the daily demands of parenthood and it can feel like there is no reprieve from all that stress. In order to help you cope with these demands and give your child a happy home life, you need support from outside sources as much as possible. The good news is that research has shown that there are simple ways you can help your child’s emotional well-being from an early age. There are also a few things you should avoid doing if you want your child to have a happy childhood.
Encourage kids to express their feelings openly
Kids are often curious about what is going on inside other people’s heads, so they are naturally inclined to express themselves in a way that feels safe. They are also curious about what is going on outside themselves, which often leads them to ask questions about their environment. These two qualities can combine to create a lot of pressure for kids to be perfect, or to stop expressing themselves altogether. This pressure can cause kids to be less open with others, or to not express themselves at all.
Encourage your child to express how they are feeling by saying something like “I am sad when you don’t want to eat your carrots.” This can help kids learn that it is OK to be sad if they don’t feel like eating or that it is OK to be angry when they don’t feel like something else.
Explore different emotions together so they understand what they mean sooner
Kids don’t just ‘feel’ emotions, they understand them. This means that they can have a really bad day and feel depressed, angry, and anxious all at once. But if they don’t understand why these things are happening to them, they won’t know how to make sense of it or what to do about it. Help your child understand the difference between feeling and understanding emotions by starting conversations about feelings. When your child gets confused about what a certain emotion means, use this as an opportunity to explain. Try to start conversations about feelings in a place where it makes sense to discuss different emotions that are relevant to your child. For example, if your child is going to a sports game, you might want to discuss the excitement of the game first and then move on to how the other team makes your child feel.
Help them learn coping skills whenever they feel overwhelmed
You can’t give your child coping skills if you don’t know how to cope yourself. Start learning new ways to handle your own emotions by journaling them out, or by talking with a friend. Knowing how to handle some emotions can be really helpful when your child feels overwhelmed. In these moments, it can help to practice breathing and finding a calming place in your own mind before talking to your child. Practicing coping skills when your child is overwhelmed can help them feel like they have a better idea on how to deal with those feelings when they pop up. This can teach them that emotions come and go and that they don’t need to be controlled all the time. This can help them become more comfortable with their emotions.
Don’t compare your child to other children
Kids are constantly comparing themselves to other people. This can become a problem when your child compares their emotions to those of other people. This comparison can cause a lot of anxiety if your child feels like they are not good at dealing with emotions like their friends or family members. But, no matter what your child’s situation, they are good at dealing with emotions. There is no “best” way to feel or process these emotions. Kids who compare themselves to others often feel bad because they have a false sense of “shouldness” about their own emotions. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, which can cause a lot of problems for your child.
Don’t punish your child for expressing emotion
Punishment is never the right way to encourage your child’s emotional well-being. If a punishment doesn’t feel right, don’t use it. Punishments that are meant to keep your child from expressing themselves can backfire. When your child feels like they are doing something wrong, they may be less likely to express themselves. Be careful with “rewarding” your child for being quiet as well. This can be confusing, especially if they are not feeling quiet.
Kids are going to have their emotions and they are going to have a really hard time understanding themselves. You can help your child by encouraging them to express their feelings, exploring different emotions, and practicing coping skills. This will help your child become more comfortable with themselves, which will make them happier. If you want your child to have a happy childhood, then you need to do your best to help them with their emotional well-being.
Children are going to face hardships and disappointment in their lives. From peer pressure and unhappiness in their own homes, children often experience these things as a result of adult problems they shouldn’t have to deal with yet.
Positivminds reinvents mental health and emotional wellbeing care by using data science & Artificial Intelligence in collaboration with clinicians and researchers, designers and writers with the objective to allow for proactive conversations to develop around emotional well-being.