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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.