Do you know what makes your children happy? Raising healthy and happy kids is a common goal for parents, but in reality, it can be a challenging order. Our children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing are interlinked, and young children are yet to be equipped to deal with big emotions since they’re still developing those skills. As parents, sometimes we tend to place how we feel as a priority over them especially during an emotional outburst.
Can parents help their children thrive emotionally? Are fun parents able to help nurture mentally strong kids who are ready for their future?
Learn to see things through our child’s perspective
At 3 to 4 years old, kids are starting to understand the emotions they feel and have very little control over them. Self-control doesn’t quite happen yet till older (maybe by 8 years old) so we can’t quite expect the young ones to “manage their emotions” perfectly. Do remember though that every child is unique and develop at different times.
When our child start brawling or goes into a meltdown, what do you do first? The easiest reaction would be telling them to stop crying. It can be embarrassing especially if children behave like that in public places, so our immediate response is to stop it.
But to the child, they’re expressing how they feel by crying because they’re unable to do so with words. Crying, stomping feet, screaming are their ways of showing that they have unmet needs.
How we could respond: Be with your child and assure him that you are there. Take him to a quiet spot (if you can) and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Listen to him explain even if he’s using simple words. Sometimes, a hug is all they need to help them calm down as they might not be developmentally ready to regulate their emotions. Talk it through with them and address the situation in a calm and neutral manner.
As parent coach and teacher, Jacinth advises – parents should connect before correcting. Not the other way around.
Be fun and enjoy the benefits that play has on emotional development
As parents, we might be wound up with our work deadlines and shuffling kids to school, enrichment classes, guiding them through homework and may neglect playtime.
According to educator and researcher, Ben Mardell of Project Zero, “My take is that any activity can be play or not play. The secret sauce is playfulness.”
Whether they’re preschoolers or teenagers, the benefits of play goes beyond emotional development. Social, physical and intellectual development are strengthened too whenever parents and kids play together.
Fill their emotional tanks
Spending quality time playing with our children and doing things together help fill their emotional tanks.
You might be wondering – how do I fill my child’s emotional tanks?
Filling children’s emotional or love tanks has the same fundamental principles to the “5 love languages”, coined by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D.. The key idea is to build and deepen connections, thereby strengthening the parent-child relationship. In fact, as we fill our kid’s emotional tanks, we are also doing the same for ourselves.
Some snippets from their book, The Five Love Languages of Children, which parents can take a leaf from to understand how to boost kid’s emotional health:
Physical Touch: Kids of all ages crave physical touch. Some examples of what parents can do to express this love language: Hugging, kissing, hand holding, wrestling, holding your child in your lap, high fives, and back scratching.
Words of Affirmation: The ways in which we verbally communicate with our children are distinguished between: Words of Affection and Endearment Words of Praise Words or Encouragement Words of Guidance. Do you know when to use what type of words?
Quality Time: Children want our focused attention and to simply be together. Just like adults, they want eye contact, to share thoughts and feelings, and to need the knowledge that they are important and you like being with them.
Gifts: This language stresses the importance of meaningful gift giving and making the most of gift giving. It’s not just meant for special occasions like birthdays, and small surprise treats count too.
Acts of Service: This language addresses the appropriateness of different acts of services at different ages, where the end-goal is for our child to mature and display acts of service to others out of love. Some examples include sewing a button, preparing a meal, fixing a bicycle, helping with homework, and just being a good role model to our kids.
Just like our kids, we go through varying emotions ranging from mum’s guilt to wondering how to be a financially-smart mum without neglecting self-love. Raising children goes beyond theories and books. Adulting matters like family financial planning or retirement planning can be mind-boggling for some. Planning for the future can be easier than you think – feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation of your financial health. Are you ready to take charge of your family’s future from today?