There has been much talk in the news about mental health. #Bekind is everywhere. Question: How do we make the mental shift to look after of our wellbeing and show empathy when needs be? I’m child of the 70’s raised in the 80’s. During those decades, the practice was still ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and ‘fingers on your lips’. What that thought our generation was stifle self-expression. Although I knew I could talk to my mum about anything but I didn’t. I internalised my fears, my angers and my frustrations. Round age 11 my mum gave me a book entitled ‘How to win over Depression’ or some such title. I realised she had her concerns but we never talked about it. Now as a mother, I strongly believe in supporting children to become emotionally intelligent as an act of self-care.
What is emotional intelligence?
Simply put, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your emotions (and those of others)
Talk It Out
Talking is an important part of teaching children communication and socialisation skills. As young as baby stage we should be interacting with them speaking. Talking (conversation) gives them the words to build their vocabulary. Before my children could speak I talked to them and asked them questions. Sometimes, I’d make facial expressions to accompany the questions. While reading, I used my voice and tone to express emotion.
As children grow older, it’s about creating a safe environment for them to speak and be heard. When my two began school, I had to be creative to find out how their day went. One child couldn’t wait to talk about the day, while the other was moody AND there were tantrums. I had to think on my feet to unpick the trigger. Frankly, some days were emotionally draining. Usually a warm bath, a cuddle or alone time allowed them to calm down enough to talk it out.
Lead By Example
As parent (carer) we need to demonstrate what emotional intelligence looks like. I’ve had this discussion with some of my mummy friends. I think that part of parenting is leading my example. Children need to see us taking care of our own mental health and wellbeing. Basically, it’s about setting a precedent of sharing, caring, empathy, and forgiveness.
Let’s be real none of us are perfect but you get what I mean, right? There are times when I can be like a three year old with my kids, if we are all tired and have a disagreement. It’s like we are all in the ball pit but it’s about having the wherewithal to say ‘sorry’ when needs be. We didn’t get here overnight, it took time.
Granted, I’ve never tried this before I think it’s a lovely idea. From a self-care standpoint, they can be quite helpful by encouraging children to check in themselves and to empower. It could be something they kept in their bedroom, in their study spot or mounted on a wall. Personally through conversation as I mentioned above is how I practically affirm . For example, praising their achievements.
Depending on the age of the child you may want something with more detail. For instance, you may want something that champions diversity. I quite like the look of Cherish Me cards I spotted on Instagram.
I believe understanding ourselves is the first step to mental health. Supporting children to become emotionally intelligent would lead to grounded adults of tomorrow. What are your thoughts on this subject? I would love to hear from you. Please comment below.
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