Supporting the emotional wellbeing of our children is crucial in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world. As an adult, your children naturally look up to you for guidance on how to navigate their emotions. This responsibility can feel significant, especially when we might be dealing with our own challenges.
While it might seem overwhelming to be the emotional role model for your children, there are practical strategies to make this task more manageable. You don’t have to be perfect; the goal is to foster a healthy perspective in your family. As you nurture your children’s emotional wellbeing you are introducing them to the concept of mental health.
Here are four effective ways to introduce children to mental health:
1. Discover the Nature of Thoughts
Practice shows us that we can observe our thoughts as they enter our minds. This observation itself indicates that we are distinct from our thoughts. Teach your children that thoughts come and go on their own. Help them understand that not everything they think is necessarily true, and it’s beneficial to discuss their thoughts with a trusted person, such as a parent or caregiver.
Encourage your kids to explore the sensation of recognising when a thought arises. Ask them to describe what happens next. Does the thought linger, or does it fade away? Does jotting down the thought or sketching it out make a difference?
2. Recognise what you CAN and CAN’T Control
Encourage your children to distinguish between thoughts that pertain to matters within their control and those that do not. While they might not be able to influence global events, they can certainly play a role in their personal health and well-being. Empower them with the understanding that they have the ability to steer their minds away from negative thought patterns.
Engage in conversations about “catastrophizing”, a tendency to fixate on a thought and envision the worst possible outcome, and how learning to manage this process can contribute to their emotional resilience.
3. HALT and OBSERVE Each Thought
Encourage your children to visualize a mental “bus stop” where negative thoughts arrive like unwelcome buses. Teach them to consciously avoid boarding these buses, allowing them to depart over time.
When unsettling thoughts arise, guide your child to HALT and OBSERVE before reacting. Similar to avoiding the negative bus, they can choose not to engage with distressing thoughts, letting them pass by.
Remember, not “boarding the bus” doesn’t mean dismissing their thoughts. Validate their feelings and explain that challenges are being addressed by experts. Empower your children with the knowledge that reshaping their thoughts can lead to positive change.
4. Embrace Natural Anxiety
In times of crisis, it’s natural to experience fear and anxiety. These emotions are our brain’s way of safeguarding us. Help your kids understand that a certain level of anxiety is healthy because it keeps them cautious.
Remind them of the sensation when they stand near a high ledge or balcony. The feeling of fear is appropriate in such risky circumstances and prompts them to step back, potentially saving their lives. However, excessive anxiety shouldn’t control their everyday lives.
In conclusion, safeguarding your children’s emotional wellbeing amid today’s dynamic world is paramount. By applying the strategies mentioned earlier, you can empower them with tools to navigate their emotions, fostering resilience and positivity.
5. Seek Support for Yourself and Your Child
If worries arise about your child’s anxiety or emotional challenges, remember that seeking professional support is a proactive step toward their wellbeing. While I don’t directly counsel children, I focus on assisting parents in guiding their children through difficultiesand managing anxiety.
I invite you to connect with me for counselling catered to your unique parenting journey. Together, we can cultivate a nurturing atmosphere that nurtures your child’s emotional development while empowering you as a confident and supportive parent.