Raising healthy families has many facets, from what our children learn, their relationships with others, their physical health, and also very importantly, how they feel. Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical wellness, and the earlier we can help our children understand and manage their emotions, the more easily they will be able to navigate challenging feelings or circumstances.
As parents, nothing is harder than seeing our children have negative experiences and feelings, and we would do anything to protect them from them. It’s really important to know that negative emotions are inevitable, and the thing that really matters is how we deal with them and guide our children through them. If we want to raise emotionally secure and well-adjusted children, here are a few things we need to think about.
Create a Safe Space for Self-Expression
The first step to raising emotionally healthy children is to create an environment where they feel comfortable to talk openly about how they feel, and allow them to express themselves, whether they have negative or positive experiences. When children don’t have a space to express themselves, or feel like self-expression will lead to a negative experience, they will start to keep things to themselves, and when something negative happens, they won’t feel they can tell you about it. It’s also important to show them that self-expression is a good thing and that they are allowed to have whatever feelings they have. If we try to curate and control their emotions, it’s easier for them not to share how they feel. If they can’t share how they feel, it’s harder to find solutions to whatever they are going through, which can have a lot of other negative effects.
Face Trauma Head-On
Life is made up of experiences, some good and some bad. This also applies to young people. Trauma comes in many different forms – and a lot of the time, we associate the word with catastrophic and terrible experiences, but trauma can be smaller things, especially for children. If we really think about ourselves as grown ups, many things can affect us – almost getting into a car crash, a sudden life change, grief, an injury and many other things. For kids, these things can also affect them, and that needs to be dealt with. If your child was in a near car crash with you, they might experience trauma from their sense of safety being shaken. According to County Line Chiropractor, a Fort Lauderdale car accident doctor, “the wounds of an accident, even a minor one, aren’t just physical – they can also be mental and emotional, and in the healing process, this has to be addressed and made part of recovery.” The great thing is, children are incredibly resilient, and if you create an environment to overcome the challenging feelings of a trauma instead of suppressing them, they will bounce back happier and better.
Be Emotionally Present
The emotional health of our children has a lot to do with our own emotional health as parents. It’s really hard to pour into our children out of a cup that’s already depleted, so we also have to focus on being as emotionally healthy as we can be for our own sake. That means we have to nurture ourselves as well. If we want our children to express themselves in a healthy way, we have to do the same. If we want our children to understand their emotions, we also have to have a good grip on our own. Remember, our little ones learn a lot from just being around us and observing what we do. Now, we won’t always have all the emotional equipment we need, and that’s okay. If we don’t have the tools, we can find them through therapists and other mental health resources. The more in-tune we become with our emotions, the more we set our children up for healthy self-expression.
It’s not hard to raise children with healthy emotions, and being a caring parent is the first step in the process, so you already have that going for you! It’s just about nurturing an environment where our children can freely express how they feel without feeling like they will be punished or rejected. Ultimately, we’re creating a space for children to be the most authentic version for themselves, while also being empathetic and caring, with healthy boundaries. It truly begins with us – we also have to actively and consistently work on being emotionally healthy in our own right. That way, you have a household that is emotionally healthy, and your children will go out into the world with the same values and strengths.