If you’re a parent, the odds are that you take a deep interest in the health and wellness of your children. As a parent, you want to know how you can make a positive impact and help improve the emotional well being of your kids.
While every child’s situation is unique, there are a number of effective strategies that parents can employ so that they play a more active role in their child’s personal growth. In this post, I’ll share some of ways that I believe are helpful for most parents.
First, it’s worth taking a moment to understand how a child’s emotional health is directly connected to their overall health and performance. As shown in this study and many others, there is a strong correlation between a child’s psychological health and his or her educational development and learning capacity. A preponderance of data shows that as a child’s emotional health improves, so to do their levels of participation in the classroom and their motivated to learn. That means that the emotional health of your children can play a a big role in their academic performance!
The important takeaway here is that a lot more goes into getting good grades then just doing homework. The reality is that kids today can feel pressured, anxious, or completely overwhelmed at school and in social settings. While pressure certainly is a part of school and academic performance, it’s important for parents to understand that when kids become over stressed and are experiencing symptoms of low self-esteem or high anxiety over an extended period of time. If they do, those feelings can have a significant impact on how they feel and how the perform in the classroom.
Here are 3 ideas and strategies that can help parents improve their communication with their kids and be better positioned to help recognize unhealthy levels of stress.
1) Practice Mindful Listening
Always try to actively listen to your children and be mindful of what they say and how they say it. This is what I like to call mindful listening.
When you actively listen to your children without distractions, you validate your children’s ideas and show a real interest in what they have to say. Sometimes, if a child is talking about feelings or a sensitive topic, a parents first inclination is to become a fixer and jump right into problem solving mode. But often, kids want and need you to just listen and show empathy. When you do, you may get a more complete understanding of what they are trying to say. That, in turns, can help you know how to respond and ask the right questions.
When you practice mindful listening, it can help to take a slow, take a deep breath after your child speaks and really focus on what they’ve said. Then, ask a follow-up question to continue the conversation – or simply offer some positive feedback to them. Done correctly, mindful listening will improve give a boost to your child’s confidence and often leads to lead to better conversations.
2) Spend high quality, one on one time with each of your children.
Most of us are very busy and may look for the most efficient way to get things done. However, when it comes to children, there is no substitute for spending high quality, one on one time with all of your children.
Here are 3 creative ways that parents can spend quality time with their children:
Cooking Night: At weekly cooking night, 1 parent has a designated night with 1 child to help cook. From coming up with the menu to cooking the food, cooking night is a sure way to spend fun, quality, and meaningful time with your kids.
Home Projects: If you (or your kids) are not big on cooking, a second idea is to work on more home projects together. Kids may already be used to doing chores or other tasks independently, but when they work with you as a team on your home or garden, your children can experience an entirely new way of getting work done.
Designated Day of the Month – One day each month, 1 parent and the designated child spend a day or afternoon together. Let your child help choose their dream activity (within limits of course) for what you do together. As part of the decision making process, children usually feel more empowered and may become more apt to communicate with you in a more authentic way.
3) Stay Consistent
Always try to be stay consistent when it comes to dealing with your children. Whether it’s enforcing ground rules, participating one-on-one events, or how you listen to your children, consistency let’s your kids know what to expect and helps parents expect accountability. Most importantly, when you are there for them on a consistent basis, they’ll look forward to spending quality time with you and be more open to sharing their ideas and feelings.
All children experience stress and anxiety. As a parent, one of your goals should be learn to differentiate between healthy stress and unhealthy stress related ailments. By practicing mindful listening, spending quality one on one time with your kids, and staying consistent, you’re be well positioned to help your children deal with everything they have going on.