How can I raise an emotionally healthy child?

Remember that the most important lessons you teach your children are communicated by the way you live, rather than by what you say.

Although children are born with unique personalities and temperaments, their families have a profound effect on their emotional health.

Emotional health is nurtured in children primarily through the direct and indirect messages they receive from the adults around them. Beginning with the development of trust as an infant’s physical and emotional needs are met, the development of healthy emotional responses depends on how children are treated. While there are many contributing factors, there are some basic ways that families can encourage the development of mentally and emotionally healthy children.

Talk with your child and listen to your child.

When children are listened to, they learn that their words are powerful and that what they say is valuable. When children are included in conversations that allow them to hear as well as be heard, they learn facts about the world but also discover that their thoughts and ideas affect other people and that they can contribute to the world around them.

Allow children to express what they feel.

Young children have very intense emotions and should be allowed to talk about them. When a child is allowed to talk honestly about his feelings, he can learn appropriate ways to express them. And when a child is asked about her feelings, she learns that her emotional state is respected. This acknowledgment of feelings helps to build good emotional health and develop sensitivity to the feelings of other people and in no way diminishes the responsibility of parents to make decisions about what is best for their child.

Be clear about rules and expectations.

Children want and need limits to provide a safety net for them. The most secure children have consistent, predictable limits. Children who are uncertain about their limits are constantly testing the boundaries. Allowing young children to decide between limited alternatives is a good way to teach them to think for themselves and to gradually learn to take responsibility for their decisions. Setting and maintaining reasonable, appropriate expectations help children feel safe and capable.

Approach discipline as education

Children need approval from the significant people in their lives and will go to almost any lengths to get approval. Young children should always feel that they are loved regardless of their behavior and should never be manipulated by attempts to impose feelings of guilt. The major goal of discipline is to help children learn to manage their own behavior. Positive behavior management helps to ensure that children will make good choices, develop strong and healthy consciences, and learn right from wrong.

Value each child for his/her special qualities.

Every child has a unique inner timetable for growth and development and each child’s timetable should be respected. No two children are the same either physically or emotionally, and they should be treated fairly but not equally. Learn to appreciate and celebrate the differences in children. Look for the qualities that make children unique and find ways to let them know you value their qualities.

Demonstrate appreciation for others.

Children learn to appreciate others as they feel appreciated themselves and as they observe family members relating positively to each other, other people, and the world in which they live. Teach children from an early age to express their honest appreciation for simple things. This positive regard will become the foundation from which children internalize respect, acceptance, and appreciation for others.

Make memories together.

Social scientists who study families have found that celebrations and traditions make a significant difference in our lives by creating and reinforcing emotional security. A simple ritual when repeated can become a tradition. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate milestones and successes of family members.

Values are better caught than taught! What is valuable to you? How do you spend your time? How do you treat other people? Children acquire the values that they observe and experience.

The way we treat children determines to a great extent who they will become. Someone said simply, "We do what we do because we are who we are." And we are who we are primarily because of the messages given to us by the significant people in our lives. Family members are consistently imprinting feelings and emotions upon children with their words and actions. Be sure the imprints for your child are those that build a solid foundation for emotional health.

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Copyright © 2017 Dennice A. D. I. Goudie. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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DADIG As the site administrator, DADIG, is solely responsible for the opinions expressed. I do my utmost to ensure that all news reports are verbatim with indicators as to where the quotes can be found online.


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