1. Teach children the ‘language of feelings’.
One major thing you can teach your children is to recognize what they feel and express those feelings in words.
Feelings are like important road signs. We are safe if we understand and listen to them. Many children shut down when they are upset because they think all feelings except for happy ones are negative and shameful. When you teach your kids the language for many different feelings and give them space to share them, it makes difficult feelings normal and healthy. They then begin to develop mental resilience and social skills. They are able to effectively deal with their feelings, grow their self-esteem and build stronger friendships too.
Even anger can be helpful when kids learn how to cope with it. The emotion of anger brings awareness that something is hurtful. When we recognize that we are hurt, our problem-solving skills can improve.
2. Put yourself in your child’s shoes sometimes.
Try to pause and listen to your child before getting angry. This will build trust in your child towards you and they will be open to listening to whatever advice you decide to give. When children are upset, be careful to understand their point of view. This can make them less defensive. This doesn’t rule out the consequences for breaking rules, but it means they can express what happened, or what their thought process was, so they can grow.
3. Be aware of your child’s overall actions and behaviour.
Children usually show us they are having a problem through their behaviour rather than their words. If you notice that your child is acting out and getting into trouble often, it is a clue that they have a problem they need you to solve or that they need emotional support to cope. It isn’t healthy if your child can’t talk to you about what is going on in their lives. When kids are acting out, there are reasons and many things can be done to help.
4. Encourage creativity.
Children need help to learn about & hone their emotions. Help them find what they truly enjoy to help them express themselves. Games, sports, art, writing, dance, gardening, photography, music, and acting are great ways of helping kids learn to cope with difficult feelings and relationships. It is the responsibility of adults to teach them.
5. Teach kids that in life, experiencing a mix of struggle and strength is normal.
Teach kids that every person will experience times of strength and times of struggle in life. There is no shame in struggling. Often children are taught to focus way too much on the struggles they are having and get “stuck”, thinking they aren’t good enough. We need to help children balance the amount of time they focus on what is hard for them to learn and what their natural skills and passions are. Helping them build on what they naturally love is the secret to helping them grow self-esteem.
6. Break the cycle.
Many children grow up being shut down and ashamed of their feelings. They are taught to ignore them in order to get through tough times. Children are like mirrors that reflect back what they see. You can teach your kids to grow emotionally by showing them you aren’t afraid to express feelings and to cope. If your children need help, you want them to be able to ask for it, so it is important that you show them you are able to ask for help as well.