Spend quality time together. Family time is incredibly important for a child’s emotional well-being, and any time spent together provides kids with a sense of balance and belonging. The scientific link between children’s emotional well-being and time spent with their family has been well established, and these studies also show that adolescents’ well-being corresponds directly with family leisure. Simple activities, like sharing meals together, were also shown to increase emotional well-being in kids. So even if it’s not possible to do a full-on family outing, just asking your kids about their day and spending some quality time together around the house is incredibly valuable for your child’s growth.
Ask questions, and encourage honesty. Kids aren’t always the best at opening up when something is bothering them. If you sense your child is dealing with something, ask them openly. Some kids just need a little nudge in the right direction in order to properly express their feelings. Even if whatever situation that’s bothering them cannot be addressed directly, you are helping to validate your child’s emotions simply by asking them what’s wrong. Furthermore, parents can look for teachable moments in these situations to provide healthy strategies for dealing with strong emotions.
Provide a safe space. Some children may feel hesitant to share their emotions if they believe there will be a negative reaction or consequence as a result. For younger kids, this often sounds something like “I didn’t want to get into trouble.” On the other hand, adolescents may feel like their emotional state is unrelatable or embarrassing to open up about. In either situation, parents should always let their kids know they have a safe environment in which to communicate their feelings. Parents should always try to provide a sense of calmness and rationality to any given situation, and to set a good example by not raising our voices and speaking clearly and directly. When a child feels like they have a mutual trust with their parent, they will be more likely to come forward for advice and direction – even if consequences will present themselves. Building a safe environment is incredibly important for a child’s sense of emotional well-being.
Encourage creativity. Having an emotional outlet does wonders for a child’s self esteem while also helping to build self confidence. From finger painting to journaling, creative self expression can be a powerful tool for people of all ages. Part of developing emotional health is understanding that our thoughts and feelings can be conveyed in more ways than one. For some, expression may feel more natural through abstract forms (like painting or music) rather than spoken words. Parents should always try to provide creative and engaging outlets for their children, regardless of their age. Whereas musical instruments or diaries might be more suited for older kids, younger children might prefer building toys or coloring books to express their creativity!