Raising Emotionally Healthy Children

Being a Mom to three VERY dramatic and spirited girls for a little over 5 years, I’ve come to learn a few things about children’s emotions in general. They are real. From age two, when a child cries for hours upon hours as you try to teach them to sooth themselves to sleep at night, to age four, when they have a catastrophic melt-down over wearing a specific colored shirt to preschool. Emotions surface daily throughout motherhood and learning how to cope and teach your child how to deal with their emotions is one of the most difficult things that  (besides laboring them) I’ve had to do.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned thus far in my journey of Motherhood, about raising emotionally healthy, well-adjusted, happy kids.

LOVE, LISTENING & RESPECT. We found that the more loved our children felt, the more emotionally healthy they seemed to be. As most adults know, you can go through pretty tough spots in life, but if you have a loving, supportive team of people who understand what you’re going through, it’s much easier to pull yourself together and move forward.

For our kids, I noticed almost the same thing. They needed lots of hugs, positive reinforcement and verbal affirmation when their emotions were high. It wasn’t an easy processes. It took lots of conscious effort on me and my husbands part to not just shrug off hurt feelings and overreactions as stronger emotions started to surface with age. We had to learn to physically stop what we were doing and take the time to make eye contact, listen, discuss and teach our children about WHY they were experiencing certain emotions, and also understand for ourselves why our children felt so passionate about that emotion they were feeling. Even at 5 years old, children can tell when their feelings are being taken into consideration. Most of the time all our children really wanted was justification from us, that their emotional state was being acknowledged.

HAPPINESS & SAFETY. One of our favorite things to do in our home is display personal photos of our family all around the house. From posed professional pictures, to everyday moments, like playing games and helping Dad cook dinner. Surrounding children by fun, happy memories subconsciously makes them have positive thoughts about their life. Pictures of themselves smiling and looking their best, promotes happiness, confidence and a feeling of safety and love. We truly believe as parents that having small life events, to look back on and be thankful for, are what make well-rounded, appreciative, emotionally stable children and adults in the future.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS. Life’s BEST teachable moments happen in our car. I’ve noticed that my kids are most susceptible to learning life’s “why and why-not’s” from me, when we’re driving to Grandmas house. You’d be amazed at the questions kids ask and the common-knowledge that you can share, when you actually have quiet moments to converse with them. Turn off the radio, put down the cell phone and ask your kids questions! Open communication, even at age 5 is like a window of opportunity to shape and mold a child’s character and emotional health. When they understand better why things are the way they are, they’re less likely to question them later on. And in return, they tend to act more logically, then emotionally about certain situations.

As a young Mom I’m constantly learning new ways to interact with my children, especially as they grow older. Emotions change, and the reasons for them change too. There’s no “right” answer on how to properly raise emotionally healthy children, but I feel like love, respect, and open communication are some of the best things that any parent can do to ensure that they have the best chance possible.

Children’s health is at the top of every mother’s mind. What’s your favorite tip for raising a healthy baby? By replying, you will be entered to win an exclusive Million Moms Challenge Gift Pack, which includes an iPad2, a custom-made Million Moms Challenge pendant and a $50 donation in your name to Global Giving.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs November 14 to December 18, 2011. A random winner will be announced by December 20, 2011.

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