Smart Steps for Building Emotionally Healthy Children

Parents are teachers first–” “I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.” Hiam Ginott

So how do we raise emotionally healthy children? There is so much less respect now than every under the guise of ‘being authentic’. The child who runs wild in a restaurant, interrupts adult conversation and negotiates or fights about any request that doesn’t meet their own need to get what they want when they want it. This is called ‘expressing themselves”. I call it selfish and lack of impulse control. This lack of self-monitoring is reinforced by parents who ignore or try to get agreement from young kids who do not accept any boundaries on unacceptable behavior. Their needs and fulfillment of them is the only that counts in this world. Talk about creating a self-centered generation. At the heart of these projects are the emotional lives of children and the emotional communication between parents and their children.

Much of today’s popular advice to parents ignores emotion,” says Dr. Gottman. “Instead it relies on child-rearing theories that address children’s misbehavior, but disregards the feelings that underlie that misbehavior. The ultimate goal of raising children should not be simply to have an obedient and compliant child. Most parents hope for much more for their children.”

Dr. Gottman’s research has uncovered that love by itself wasn’t enough. “We found that concerned, warm, and involved parents often had attitudes toward their children’s emotions that got in the way … when the child was sad or afraid or angry,” he writes. “The secret to being an emotionally intelligent parent lay in how parents interacted with their children when emotions ran hot….successful parents tended to do five very simple things with their children when they were emotional. Gottman calls these the critical five elements of “Emotional Coaching.”

  1. Be aware of  your emotional triggers and a child’s emotions
  2. Recognize emotional expression as an opportunity for connecting/ coaching
  3. Listen empathetically and validate a child’s feelings
  4. Label emotions in words a child can understand
  5. Help a child come up with an appropriate way to solve a problem or deal with an upsetting issue or situation

Dr. Gottman’s research on parents as coaches validates the research of Dan Goldman who has developed quite a bit of attention on the “emotionally intelligent” people. What are characteristics of these children?

  • are able to regulate their emotional states
  • are better at soothing themselves when they are upset
  • can calm down their hearts faster after an upsetting incident
  • have fewer infectious illnesses
  • are better at focusing attention
  • relate better to other people, even in tough situations like getting teased in middle school
  • are better at understanding people
  • have better friendships with other children
  • are better in school situations that require academic performance

Gottman’s research discovered that children who had “Emotion Coaches” for parents were on an entirely different, more positive developmental trajectory than the children of other parent  He is the first researcher to confirm in a longitudinal studies the  work of the brilliant children’s clinician, psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott. Dr Ginott sees parents as the first teacher of their children when he says: ” Truth for its own sake can be a deadly weapon in family relations. Truth without compassion can destroy love. Some parents try too hard to prove exactly how, where and why they have been right. This approach will bring bitterness and disappointment. When attitudes are hostile, facts are unconvincing.”

The important point I want to make is that respect comes out of love and managing your attitude and paying attention to both the physical and emotional development of your children. So teach and coach your children to be sensitive and caring to others by not  excluding or slighted others, and the consequences of anger and behaving disrespectfully to others. Teach them to be liked they need to be kind and respectful of others feelings ; and build strong relationships by being more caring and selfless. Everyone responds to emotional support, empathy and love which produces emotionally healthy relations based on respect and consideration for others.

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3 thoughts on “Smart Steps for Building Emotionally Healthy Children”

  1. That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Simple but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  2. Reblogged this on The Wick and commented:

    When the world suffers in the future it is because we as parents dehumanized our children. Remember chidren want to be loved and hugged.

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