Parents face dozens of challenges everyday when it comes to raising their children, whether it's getting them to eat healthy, do their homework, or stay safe. But a parent's duty doesn't stop there, it's essential that they focus on even a child's emotional health.
Emotionally, healthy children usually perform better in school, practice healthy behaviours later in life; they build enduring and mutually respectful relationships and have coping skills that can help them through hard times. "What every child needs is a loving, caring adult who is passionately, wildly committed to that child," says Geoff Nagle, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology and director of the Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Nagle offers some tips that can help you raise children who are emotionally healthy:
Don't turn your back on your own problems. If you're having emotional issues yourself, or battling with substance abuse and addiction, it's important that you get treatment, because if you don't deal with your problem, it will turn into your child's problem. No matter how tied up you are with balancing your life and raising children, address your emotional issues first!
Know what behaviours are expected at a given age. Most parents face problems when they do not know the appropriate developmental milestones for their child's age and what behaviours are reasonable to expect. Hence, as parents, you need to be informed about the various developmental stages your child goes through as this will in turn help you understand and respond to your child's needs. Knowing about appropriate behaviours for your child's age will help you identify real problems.
Spend quality time with your child. It can be difficult to come home at the end of a long day and take off your work hat and then put on your parent hat, but this is exactly what children need you to do. "Find a way to be present for them, to find out what happened in their day, what worked, and what was hard for them," says Nagle.
Choose the right childcare. Your child's health, both emotional and physical will be maximized with a person or institution when there are only a small number of children for each caregiver."If parenting were easy, most of us would be perfect, but no parent is perfect, says Nagle. "Even low-risk parents have high-risk moments, but what counts is the overall relationship."
As a parent, you should remember that life is a process and your child will encounter disappointment, failure, rejection, and conflict as he or she moves through life. By giving your child a strong sense of self-love, self-esteem and care, you prepare him or her to learn what life is about. The simple answer to being able to provide a good foundation for long-term emotional health for your child is "YOU". Now putting this answer into practice is quite challenging, but considerably rewarding!