Negative self-talk is a huge problem for people of all ages. This thinking often begins in childhood. Children are receiving constant messages that they are not good enough. Many children get “stuck” in thinking this way from hearing negative messages about themselves and their abilities. They then repeat these messages to themselves over and over. Repetitive negative thinking about yourself, others and the world can lead to future mental health struggles. So we’ve comprised 5 tips on how to improve your child’s emotional well-being.
1. What you can do
STOP and really listen to your child before reacting and offering advice or getting angry. When children are upset, be careful to understand their point of view and validate how their feeling whether or not you agree. Listening to your child’s viewpoint can reduce their defensive reactions. This enables them to express what happened, or what their thought process was, so they can grow.
2. Teach your children to express their feelings
Many children shut down when they are upset because they think negative feelings are bad and shameful. When you invite your children to explore and express their feelings, it shows them that difficult feelings are normal and healthy and the end result is their development of emotional intelligence and good social skills. By equipping them to recognize and deal with what they are feeling; they are increasing their self-esteem and are able to build stronger friendships too.
3. Bad behavior is an indicator of trouble
Children often show that they are struggling, through their behavior. If your child is acting out and getting into trouble It’s a signal that there is a bigger issue to be addressed or that they are in need emotional support. All children need guidance and support to help them discover their emotions and create healthy relationships.
4. Happiness and despair are normal for everyone
Teach your child that every single person on the planet will experience times of happiness and times of despair. There is no shame in having a hard time. Often parents tend to focus too much on the struggles their children are having, be it in a sport or what they’re getting “stuck” on in school, this causes children to think they aren’t good enough. We need to encourage our children to balance the amount of time they focus on the negative and what their good qualities and natural skills are.
Counselling and leisure activities are great ways of helping your children build the skills they need to be the best version of themselves. Taking your children to counselling to learn new coping skills in an area that may be difficult for them can be a big help to their emotional health and development. It makes them healthier, stronger and more confident individuals.
5. Break the cycle.
Many adults grew up ashamed of their feelings and unfortunately, we pass this onto our kids unintentionally. Children are like mirrors that reflect back to us what they see in their environment (monkey see, monkey do!). You can teach your kids emotional intelligence by showing them that you aren’t afraid to express your own feelings and cope with them in a healthy way.
Example: If you lose your temper, first apologize; next, show your kids how to learn from the experience by making emotionally healthy choices yourself. Teach them, by setting the example of taking responsibility for your actions. Show them it is normal to make a mistake.
Our brains are designed to change when we repeat thoughts and actions over and over.
Picture yourself and your child making a snow angel, slowly, the repetitive movements groove into the snow deeper and deeper to make a beautiful angel shape. Our brains work in a similar way. If your child is rehearsing negative thoughts, they may become very good at something that is detrimental to their well-being. To change negative thinking patterns takes practice, try encouraging them to focus on the good things instead. They will eventually automatically gravitate towards positive thinking and start to feel happier.