All parents want what’s best for their children, but “what’s best” can sometimes seem unclear and may fluctuate. Should you be strict with your child, or afford them lenience and freedom? Should you try to distract them from their problems or focus on them? Should you push them to pursue their talents or back off and let them decide what’s best? A lot of ink has been spilled on the topic of parenting, for the very reason that it’s difficult to know “what’s best”, but there are tips you can follow to ensure that you play an active role in developing their child’s emotional wellbeing.
Child’s Emotional Wellbeing
Firstly, practice open communication. Communicating effectively isn’t a one-way street, and you have to be prepared to listen to your child. Sometimes as parents the impulse is to teach lessons and lay down the law, which in either case involves you saying a lot and them listening a lot. While of course it’s important to be a teacher, it’s imperative as well to be open to your child’s opinions and expressions.
If your child is expressing anger, frustration, excessive fear or sadness, don’t ignore them, and don’t attempt to trivialize these feelings. Saying “it’s just a phase”, or “you’re just grumpy”, may be wishful thinking on your part, but not particularly helpful. These feelings can indicate a deeper mental health issue, and demand attention both from you and possibly a mental health professional as well.
And it’s completely understandable if you think that seeking help is frightening – you have the image of a perfect family in your head, and believe that admitting its flaws is tantamount to failure. But it’s very much the opposite! In order for you to look after your child’s mental health effectively, you have to push a bit of pride away and really do what’s best for them. That might mean taking time out of your busy day to be a dedicated listener, or it might mean seeing a therapist for child counselling.
Another way to effectively care for your child’s emotional and mental wellbeing is to pay attention to your expectations. You want to encourage talent, yes, but you also want to accept limitations. It can be emotionally distressing for a child to feel like they’re not enough, or that despite their best efforts they can’t achieve your goals. Celebrate their accomplishments, but don’t put too much stock into them – trust that they will follow their passion to as far as it leads.
Finally, invite them to spend time with you. Bring your child into your life, involving them with what’s going on with you. That’s not to say you have to go ahead and unload your money troubles on them, or anything like that, but be frank and open with your life. Let them know about your work, or your daily activities, about the places you’d love to visit or interests you keep.
There is, of course, more to it than can be contained in an article, but starting with key tenets of listening, understanding, helping and involving, you can effectively care for your child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.