How Do I Raise an Emotionally Healthy Child?
Raising an emotionally healthy child is a process that takes place every day. It sounds daunting, but it is surprisingly effortless to do once you learn how to do it. Just by being interested in your child’s emotional health, you’re already on the path to learning how to raise an emotionally healthy child.
It’s easy for children’s emotional health to become lost in the shuffle of life. Of course parents pay attention to their children’s physical health, taking steps to return them to feeling and operating well. Sometimes, though, emotional health is neglected in the hectic world of family life: school, homework, scheduled activities, and more keep parents and kids on the run and emotional health inadvertently neglected.
Nurturing kids’ emotional wellbeing can happen during the hustle and bustle of life. You can do it at home and on the run. You don’t need expensive gadgets. How to raise emotionally healthy children begins with you and your relationship with your kids. The quality and nature of a parent-child relationship is the foundation on which an emotionally healthy child is built.
How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children?
It begins with understanding what “emotionally healthy” means.
This might disappoint parents: When kids are emotionally healthy, they still experience problems and difficulties. They’ll face conflicts and let-downs, and when they do, their emotions will probably be negative. This is part of life for everyone. But while emotional wellness can’t stop the problems from happening, it does mean that kids respond in a healthy way instead of reacting rashly. When kids are emotionally healthy, they can experience the negative, deal with it, and move forward again.
Children who have healthy emotional skillsets can identify their emotions and face them rather than running from them, and they can tolerate negative emotions because they know they’re temporary. They avoid reacting to people and situations but instead respond with self-control and smart choices.
Other components of emotional health include:
- The ability to express emotions constructively
- Knowing when to pause and breathe to reset
- Walking away at the right time (neither running early in avoidance or staying and prolonging conflict)
- Having a mentally healthy attitude and perspective
- Resilience—getting back up when knocked down
- Taking action to thrive despite problems
- The skill of functioning well in society, including their childhood world
- Knowing how to self-regulate
- Developing self-awareness
Emotionally healthy kids fit these traits. In addition to these traits, all kids (and babies and adults, too) have basic needs that, when honed, help kids create success in school, activities, relationships, family life, and all other aspects of life. Understanding and meeting these needs is part of how you can raise emotionally healthy children. These requirements for emotional health are for:
- Respect (listening to them, talking nicely, treating them politely)
- Feeling valued (listen to kids’ opinions, solicit their input, give them things to do)
- Acceptance (love them for who they are, don’t laugh at them, encourage their interests)
- Inclusion (help them feel connected, let them in on decision-making, have fun together)
- Security (create a positive, safe home environment)
When you meet these basic needs all kids have, you are naturally developing their emotional health.
How to Raise an Emotionally Healthy Child: Some Helpful Tips
You’ve already begun to gather information on helping your kids develop emotional wellness. Love and your relationship are of utmost importance, and meeting their fundamental needs for emotional health is vital as well. There are other things you can do for your children every day that will naturally build emotional skills.
- Build emotional regulation by helping them to identify, monitor, and adjust responses.
- Help them identify their strengths and interests and be proud of who they are.
- Tell them when they do something well, show gratitude when they do something for you.
- Help them develop and use outlets for strong emotions (sports, art, music, etc.).
- Model your own emotional health by handling stress positively and telling them what you do.
- Work with them to compile a go-to list of things to do when they’re upset (active things, creative activities, calm activities).
- Pay attention to how they talk about themselves and others. If it’s predominantly negative, help them reframe their thoughts and see positives rather than dwelling on negatives.
- Create a safe space for them to be when they have strong emotions (their own bedroom is a great place).
- Spend quality time with your kids, connecting with them and having positive experiences.
Parents who are present, available, and engaged in their children’s lives naturally foster emotionally healthy development. The earlier you start, the sooner your kids will begin to develop their skillset for emotional wellness. The process can begin with a newborn and continue to be honed through adulthood. It just takes a strong relationship, love, listening, and gentle guidance.
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Peterson, T. (2019, July 6). How Do I Raise an Emotionally Healthy Child?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/parenting-skills-strategies/how-do-i-raise-an-emotionally-healthy-child