A child’s emotional needs are just as important as their physical ones.
Parents know that it is their duty to put a roof over their children’s heads and to make sure that they are always fed and clothed. Of course, every child needs and deserves a parent who will go out of their way to ensure that they are physically safe and secure. However, what many parents do not know is that, in addition to a child’s physical needs, their emotional needs must also be fulfilled. In other words, while many parents do everything in their power to take care of their children’s physical needs, they often emotionally neglect them. Many do so unintentionally as they are not aware of how children’s emotional needs must be approached or fulfilled. For this reason, many children grow up not knowing how to manage their emotions.
What are a child’s emotional needs?
According to the parenting expert and family therapist Meri Wallace LCSW, ‘Children come into the world with certain basic emotional needs: the need to feel loved and the need for a positive self-esteem. As a parent, it is your job to be aware of these needs, and communicate with your child in a way that will support your child’s positive growth.’ Therefore, it is a parent’s duty to not only provide for and take care of the physical safety of their child but to also pay attention to their emotions and their needs. Moreover, it is a parent’s job to teach their child how to manage their emotions because navigating life without knowing how to deal with your feelings can be difficult and painful.
8 things you should do to teach your children how to manage their emotions.
1. Ask them how they feel.
Parents who emotionally neglect their children rarely ask them how they feel. A child needs to know that they can safely share their feelings; moreover, by asking them how they feel, you are encouraging them to look inward and become more self-aware. Being self-aware and knowing how to label your feelings is important as it allows one to gain a better understanding of who they are.
2. Do not make them think that certain emotions are ‘bad’.
Teaching your children to suppress their anger can have many negative effects. If a child grows up thinking that certain emotions are ‘bad’, they may grow up believing that there is something wrong with them for feeling these emotions. Instead of teaching your child to suppress these emotions, teach them how to manage them.
3. Teach them the importance of positive self-talk.
Let your children know that they should be kind to themselves. Remind them how important it is to talk positively about their abilities and appearances. Moreover, teach them how to motivate themselves when times are difficult and stressful.
4. Talk about uncomfortable emotions.
Although it will be difficult, it is your job as a parent to be willing to talk about things that may be uncomfortable. Let your children know that they are not alone and that you will always be there to listen.
5. Let them express themselves.
Sometimes, children find it easier to express themselves and their emotions in more creative ways. In other words, they may play an instrument, paint, draw, or write. Allow them to do what makes them feel comfortable and at ease. Everybody needs an outlet for their emotions.
6. Explain how you handle your emotions.
Talk to them about how you manage and control your feelings. For example, let them know what breathing techniques you use when you get anxious or how you handle your anger so that you do not unintentionally hurt your loved ones.
7. Set a good example emotionally.
More often than not, children learn by observing. This means that if they see you lashing out and overreacting when you get angry, they are probably going to grow up to do so too. If you take control of your emotions and ensure that you handle feelings in a healthy way, your children will learn from the examples you set.
8. Find a way to explain emotions in a way they find relatable.
Try using examples from the books and shows they like to make difficult emotions more relatable and easy to understand. If they see someone expressing anger on a show they watch, explain what they are seeing and ask how it makes them feel.
Knowing how to manage your emotions can help make your life easier. Teach your children how to control and handle their feelings to ensure their healthy growth and development.