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4 Ways to Promote Emotional Health in Kids

4 Ways to Promote Emotional Health in Kids

Do you have faith in your kids?


We all want to raise emotionally healthy kids who are independent and have confidence and good self-esteem. Here are four ways to help promote emotional health in your kids.

1. Feel what they feel:

Kids who are emotionally healthy are comfortable with their emotions. Many times parents inadvertently let kids know that their feelings are not important. “You shouldn’t be sad.” “We don’t cry over silly things like that!”

To help kids understand themselves and their feelings we need to empathize with them.

“You feel sad that Eli is sick and can’t play with you today.”
“You are so disappointed that you lost your favorite book.”

When we empathize with our kids we teach them to listen to themselves and understand and name their emotions. When they feel understood they can more likely move past their negative emotions and feel equipped to solve their own problems.

“Yeah, maybe I’ll see if Sam is around...”
“I’ll look upstairs for the book…”

Empathizing conveys to kids a rich vocabulary of words like, frustrated, embarrassed, sad, hurt, confused, mad, and let down. Being emotionally literate is key in developing emotional health because those words help kids makes sense of their often conflicting feelings and help them gain clarity about their inner world. It is then easier for them to be able to understand and connect with others.

2. Have faith in your kids:

Kids generally don’t like to listen to their parent’s rules. They try to find lots of ways to disregard the limits parents set. This can get pretty frustrating for us. To help promote our kids mental health we should try (as best as we can) to look at their moments of opposition as opportunities. We can use those difficult times to show that we have faith in their goodness and they have the ability to do what they are told.

For example, a parent says, “What is taking you so long? I asked you 10 minutes ago to put away your laundry and come help with dinner.”

Instead we can give our children the benefit of the doubt: “Sam, I need you attention. It seems that you didn’t hear me the first time I asked. I know you that you are generally very helpful. I need you to close your book, put your laundry away and help with dinner.”

3. See the good in your kids:

Encouraging kids by saying, “Good job” or “You are wonderful” does not build confidence or emotional health. The best way to build our children’s emotional health is to praise kids by describe what it is that they have done.

Instead of: “What a good boy you are!” Try this: “You helped Daniel find the game he was looking for. This family knows how to work together.”

4. Teach kids to problem solve:

Life is full of challenges and we cannot protect our kids from them. The best gift we can give to our kids is teaching them that they have the ability to overcome their problems. They are capable of coming up with solutions.

In my house, we often use two phrases, that help teach kids solution oriented thinking:

“We don't accuse we focus on solutions.”
“Our family if a family that focuses on solutions.

By now they have become a bit of a family joke, and not only do they help kids think about solving problems, they are used to diffuse tense situations.

When the freezer is left open by mistake or someone forgets to do their chores someone will say: “It’s a good think this family doesn't accuse and we only focus on solutions!”

Or my husband will say: “Wait, in this family we only accuse, we never focus on solutions! Oh, no, I got that wrong; it's the opposite!”

Being empathetic, showing faith, seeing the goodness in your kids and teaching your kids to problems solve are all great ways to up the odds that your kids will grow up to be emotionally healthy adults.

April 11, 2015

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Edna, April 14, 2015 6:49 PM

Kids have to be taught, not just be tiptoed around.

Kids are human beings, not porcelain dolls. We as parents are here to ensure that they grow into mature emotional adults, who are ready to face the obstacles that the world and life throws at them.

We have to allow them a certain amount of freedom, based on respect and trust. We must teach them to be considerate, kind, but never to allow anyone to victimize or push them to one side.

We must teach them that each one is unique, and worthy of respect. We must teach them to laugh, and have a sense of humor which is the best weapon to have.

So far, all I have seen with your advice are parents who are in the 35 to 50 yr old range kowtow to their child's every whim. Most of the women are emotionally immature whatever their age, and although most have University degrees, they are insecure as parents, having come to that stage at a late date.

They treat their kids as they would breakables, and stand guard whenever paternal grandparents visit, or the grandchild shows too much affection to these grandparents. The loving, fun and close relationship between paternal grandparents and the grandchildren have become taboo.

Tell me, how is it, that people like my husband and I have such wonderful memories of wonderful togetherness with not only our parents but also with our grandparents. Neither of us were spoilt with non stop material gifts, and neither of us was allowed to emote and cause hurt or pain to our parents, grandparents and extended family.

Stop treating kids as if they were breakable fine china, and when they have to obey for their own safety and good, then they have to accept to obey. Be straightforward with your kids. Never lie to them, but be gentle and firm. Teach them how to be honourable by being honourable yourselves, and teach them that the world does not revolve around their "pipick.

They have to be taught to think of others, not just themselves.

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