6 things, resilient kids know!

resilienceinchildren

Noticing and responding to your child’s feelings is the deepest most personal way that you can say, “i love you.” As parents we want, more that anything to do right by our children. We know that the way we treat our children matters.

But parenting is probably the most complex role any of us will ever have in our lives, and few of us enter parenthood fully equipped to meet all our children’s needs.

Especially when it comes to their emotional ones. In truth , the way a child is treated emotionally by his parents determines how he’ll treat himself as an adult. For example, a child who does not receive enough realistic, heartfelt acknowledgement from his parents for his accomplishments may grow up with low self-esteem and little confidence in his own abilities.

You probably love your child “all the way to the moon and back” as the classic children’s book says. But love simply isn’t enough. Because if you don’t attend enough to you child’s emotions, your child will feel ignored on some level, no matter how much attention you pay to him in other ways.

Emotions are literally a part of your child’s physiology. They are the most deeply personal, biological part of who he is. So noticing and responding to your child’s feelings is the deepest, most personal way for you to say, “i love you.”

Why it’s hard

As a parent it is not easy to know when and how to respond emotionally to your child. And it’s one hundred times harder when you grew up in a household that under-responded to your emotions (Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN).

As a psychologist who has worked with thousands of parents, i have seen firsthand that the best time to learn emotions skills is during your childhood. When your parents don’t have these skills, they can’t teach them to you. Then what do you do when its your turn to teach your kids?

Add to that challenge the fact that emotion hides behind behavior. Its easier to get angry with a child who is sulking than to look for the underlying emotion that’s causing the behavior.

6 Ways to Raise an Emotionally Resilient Child

  1. Pay attention to who you child really is. Observe you child’s true nature-and reflect it back to her. What does you child like, dislike, get angry about, feel afraid of, of struggle with? Feed these observations back to your child in a nonjudgmental way so that your child can see herself through you eyes, and so that she can feel how well you know her.
  2. Feel an emotional connection to your child. Strive to feel what your child is feeling, whether you agree with it or not. Put the feeling into words for him and teach him how to use own words to express it.
  3. Respond competently to you child’s emotional need. Don’t judge your child’s feeling as right or wrong. Look beyond the feeling, to the source that’s triggering it. Help your child name and mange her emotion. Give her simple, age-appropriate rules to live by.
  4. Teach self-forgiveness by modeling compassion. When your child makes a poor choice or mistake, help him understand what part of the mistake is his, what part is someone else’s, and what part is the circumstance. That helps him figure out how to correct his mistake without feeling blame from you or automatically blaming himself.
  5. Show your child that you like as well as love her. It’s vital that your child not only knows but feel that you like and love her. Warm, caring hugs, laughter, and truly enjoying your child’s personality all go a long way toward conveying that feeling to your child. Knowing that she’s love is not the same as feeling loved.
  6. Don’t miss small opportunities to give attention. Childhood is composed of many small emotional moments, and the more of these that you share, the better of your child will be when he or she grows up.

Wondering if you received enough emotional attention and true empathy as a child to give your children that they need? Since CEN is subtle and invisible, it can be hard to know if you grew up with it. Take the Childhood Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free.

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how it happens and how to recover from it, see EmotionalNeglect.com.

APA Reference 
Webb PhD, J. (2017). 6 Ways to Make Them Emotionally Resilient.

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