10 Ways to Show Your Children you Value Their Emotional Health

10 Ways to Show Your Children you Value Their Emotional Health

“Your child’s mental health is more important than their grades.”

(* this post was edited 10/20 to be gender inclusive)

A while back, I shared a meme from the blog Wilder Child with the above quote and was touched and inspired by how much it spoke to people’s hearts.

I was inspired by the thoughtful comments people shared.

I reflected on how I want to show my daughter I value her mental health and personal measures of success over academic and mainstream ones.

I recalled the voices of the children and tweens I’ve worked with over the past 15 years and how they all desired to be heard and to feel that their emotions are valued.

Here are the top ten:

10 ways to show your children you value their emotional health

1. Listen to them with compassion when they share their feelings

Have you ever had a situation where your child shared something that upset or frustrated them and to you, it was just no big deal?

You couldn’t really get why they could feel sad about it, so the response comes out something along the lines of, ‘Don’t worry about it‘.

If you don’t personally value what they’re emotional about, it can be easier to be distracted about it and shrug it off.

If your child is genuinely emotional, it doesn’t matter if it’s because they lost an important friendship or their favorite hairbrush.

What matters is that you tune in and listen.

Parents of girls: here are 10 ways to show your daughter you value her emotional health as much as you value her academic success

2. Let them experience the full intensity of their emotions

In a similar way to the above, when we as parents experience our children having intense, difficult emotions, we may instinctively want to help them by making it stop.

Honestly, when I hear my daughter crying, I also want it to stop so I won’t have to experience the pain of watching her go through pain.

I practice checking in with myself to remind myself it’s not about me and my discomfort.

It’s about letting my daughter experience her true emotions without me interfering.

When we say things like, ‘You’re ok’, ‘It’s not that bad’, ‘Why are you so upset about that?’ ‘That’s not a big deal‘, it sends the message that the emotions themselves aren’t important and that they’re wrong to experience.

Here are some things you can say instead: 

‘I’m sorry that made you feel so sad, mad, jealous, etc.’

‘I can see that felt like a really big deal for you’ 

‘It’s okay to be (fill in the blank of any difficult emotion)’

3. Give them tools to manage their emotions

It’s important to help children develop emotional management tools as early in their lives as possible.

It can be especially important that by the tween years, kids developed a core toolkit of strategies to manage their emotions.

As they grow into teens and develop abstract thought on top of shifting hormones, they need to have the skills ready to deal with the new thoughts and intensity of emotions they will soon experience.

I created the Chakra Kids Oracle Cards as as way to offer kids access to a system for emotional management and wellness they can use throughout their lives.

4. Value your Self-Care

This can be one of the hardest ones for moms to wrap their brains around. It’s like there’s an inherent mom guilt built in that tells us that unless we’re giving all our free moments to our children, we’re not doing our best.

I get it.

I struggle with offering time to myself for self-care every day. Even though I can be fully confident in writing this to other moms and even though I’ve seen time after time in my own life and those of my clients, students, friends and family, I still struggle to believe that my self-care will lead me to being a better parent.

So, I aim to be mindful about it every day.

To hold myself accountable to believing in its importance and to creating space for self-care even when I have to keep asking my guilt to beat it the whole time.

I also openly talk with my daughter about the value of giving ourselves time to do whatever brings us joy and helps us relax.

I suggest for you to try the same and see how it goes.

5. Encourage and empower them to do their best

I believe that our children should all have the comfort of knowing that we’re their biggest fans.

Even if they don’t share them openly, or know quite what they are yet, they have big dreams and goals.

When you encourage your children to do their best and empower them with the tools they need to do so, it helps them create the foundation of self-confidence to stay connected to their best self even when they’re going through a difficult time.

6. Let them know their best is good enough; they are good enough no matter what

When we help our kids strive to be their best, there can often be a connection made that doing your best equals being perfect.

This is NOT the message we want to send.

In order to shift away from the good girls culture, where there is often a relentless feeling of pressure girls experience to be perfect and successful across all areas as the only way to be ‘good enough’, we need to start directly teaching otherwise– that self-worth is unconditional.

In order to shift towards a culture where it’s safe for boys to share their feelings openly, we need to cultivate self-worth that isn’t dependent on bottling up difficult emotions.

That’s why it’s crucial to balance out your supporting your children to strive to do their best with an honoring of who they are no matter what happens.

 

7. Show them you accept them just the way they are

Something I hear often from the boys and girls I work with is that they don’t feel like their parents accept them for who they really are, from things like their interests, to their ability level, to appearance.

This is one of the biggest things I’d like to help change.

And, it’s one of the biggest things I focus on with my own parenting.

Here are some reflection prompts to help support you in taking steps to fully accept your children for who they are:

Do I ever tell my kids not to like something or wear something just because I personally don’t like it?

How can I take one step to shift the focus to why they care about those things? 

Do I ever get frustrated because my kids aren’t learning something quickly enough or doing it the way I would do it? —

How can I take one step to value their pace and approach?

8. Laugh

It’s just as important to create space for positive emotions as it is for difficult ones.

Don’t forget to have fun and LAUGH with your kids!

Laughter has amazing health benefits.

Did you know there’s such a thing as laughter yoga and meditation?

Check out this laughter meditations for kids for some ideas.

9. Play

Creating space for play is so important for supporting emotional health.

One crucial reason we need to teach the value of play is to help balance out the growing epidemic of stress and anxiety kids face today.

You can also learn essential life skills through play that support emotional health, such as building confidence, social skills and growth mindset.

10. Love

“All you need is love.” – The Beatles

I’m going to let one of my favorite bands speak for me on this one. If you lead with this, it will guide all the rest.

Ever wonder how to empower your children with their own set of emotional management tools?

I designed the Chakra Kids Oracle Cards as a way to do just that, all wrapped up in a colorful, fun package your kids (and your own inner child) will love.

The Kickstarter is live through November 19.

Help bring this project to life!

6 Responses to 10 Ways to Show Your Children you Value Their Emotional Health

  1. Great article. I think all of this applies to boys too and doesn’t need to be so gender specific to girls. Tweens need support learning how to deal with their emotions in order to be empowered as adults in today’s world.

    • Thank you! I agree with you that these suggestions could apply to boys too. I’m currently focusing my work on supporting girls’ emotional development as a way to support the unique aspects of their journey. I have some plans for ideas to expand in the future 🙂

  2. I loved these Ideas, but was sad to think boys were excluded. Our society has pushed them so far behind in emotional development. They need to be included and children who do not identify with gender, as well.

    • thank you for your comment. I agree with you that it’s hugely important for boys to be supported in emotional development. My work at this time focuses on supporting girls’ development, specifically to help change the narrative that girls lose their self-esteem between the ages of 9-12. In this current moment in time, I also think that there are nuances to how to best help boys and girls because of how differently they are treated, perceived and brought up with respect to emotional development. I’m planning a project in boys’ emotions for 2020. And currently, there is some excellent work being done out there to support boys in building healthy emotional development. My mentor Niobe Way is one of them. Judy Chu does amazing work in this area. I also like the FB page Raising Feminist Boys. I hear you too about the importance of including those who don’t identify with gender and will continue to explore ways I can be more inclusive with my work at the same time as honoring the need to support individual differences.

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