In a generation where many adults still fear responsibilities, when the search for immediate reward prevails, and the growing number of folks that can only function on anxiolytic… adults who live for video-games and political discussions, where the danger is not only in living in an unsafe neighborhood, susceptible to floods or natural disasters, not having a job to support your family, but in the way, people are behaving and the future of young generations. We wonder what’s gone wrong. Is it possible this is a cultural or upbringing issue?
I believe that today, all parents ask themselves how to raise mentally strong children, since we have been seeing the result of so many emotionally fragile adults – and leaders – lately. By raising children who are mentally strengthened, you will be preparing them to overcome the world’s difficulties. It will prepare them to be able to solve problems quickly and assertively, overcome their frustrations and reframe bad experiences.
In addition to helping to develop skills in which they have difficulties and persist in their goals, children who have a healthy emotional state know how to deal with their emotions, do not act in a spoiled way in the face of life’s obstacles, do not see themselves as victims nor as superior to others. They have resilience and the confidence necessary to reach their maximum potential in a healthy way.
In order to raise emotionally healthy and strong children, it is necessary to focus on three important issues:
- Encourage the switch from negative thoughts for real views of the situation along with curiosity to identify the key opportunity it brings for growth;
- Teach the importance of controlling your emotions so that you don’t become a slave to them; learning how to respond, instead of reacting;
- Nurture and develop productive attitudes, think win-win, even in difficult times.
And there are several parenting strategies, disciplines, and learning methods that help children to be emotionally healthy and be prepared for life. In this article, I will give you some tips that make all the difference when you establish them in the first years of life:
1. Help the development of important skills
It is not by forcing your little one to do something that they will develop the discipline necessary to follow through. It is necessary to teach it. In fact, one of the definitions of the word discipline is just that – “instruction, educate or teaching.” See what you consider your child’s “misbehavior” as an opportunity for conversation, teaching them to develop the skills they will need as adults. How to solve problems, not act impulsively, be focused, persistent and consistent. This will help your child to be more productive in their daily lives, regardless of the challenges.
2. Give your child autonomy and room to make mistakes
Our children need to have autonomy, because it will allow them to make mistakes and experience the consequences resulting from it; enabling them to rethink their attitudes, and learning from it. It is great when we learn from the mistakes of others, but children, usually, initially learn from their own. It is also important that your child knows that mistakes are part of growing up and learning. Mistakes are part of everyone’s life. It is precisely because many parents do not allow their children to make mistakes, that children become adults with great fear of trying something new; they run from challenges and changes, and tend to live a stagnant life in their limited comfort zone.
3. Mine negative thoughts
There is no way a child can feel mentally strong when they are often humiliated, or when they are surrounded by people talking about all the bad possibilities and worst case scenarios that can happen. A pessimistic person sees no point in self-growth and development, as, in their view of the world, everything will most likely go wrong.
Look at life’s challenges realistically, but be welcoming. Challenges are opportunities and exist to make us evolve, after all, this is the real purpose of life. Teach your little ones not to think negatively, but to see the world as infinite adventures and possibilities to be cherished and welcomed.
4. Encourage your little one to face their fears
We all tend to run away from what we fear, but it comes a time when we do need to face them in order to be self-confident and know how to control our stress. If your little one is afraid of sleeping alone or doesn’t want to do anything new for fear of the unknown, help them understand their feelings and hesitations. However, do not force them to face, or “get over” the fear. Guide them, talk, try to understand what’s going on in your little one’s mind. If we can count on someone to listen to us, trust and guide us in the journey of overcoming our fears successfully when we are still children, we develop a great sense of safety and security that will encourage children to go beyond their comfort zone as adults.
5. Allow the child to feel the discomfort
Although we always want to help our children when they face small challenges, this attitude does not always solve the real problem, and it may actually leave children feeling helpless. If your little one feels bad for not being able to learn how to ride a bike, let them live and experience the learning curve! Talk, share your experience and how it was also difficult for you, but after practicing a lot you learned it, and now you really enjoy it. It is the discomfort, along with empathy, that will give your child the will to act and change their behavior, persisting in several ways, until they can ride a bicycle. Thus, learning to solve problems and overcome challenges through trial and error. In addition to be doing this on their own, they hold themselves accountable, learn to control their emotions, instead of throwing responsibility on others.
6. Focus on passing on values and principles
We all need certain standards and a sense of direction in our lives, especially with regard to values and principles, to develop a healthy, balanced and centered mindset. The most important thing is that you, and the adults who live or spend their days with your children, be an example for the little ones, because children pay more attention to the actions of the surrounding adults, than to what grownups have to say. Whenever you can, pass on the life lessons of the different situations we experience in everyday life; talk about the importance of empathy, of being honest and the value of integrity, instead of wanting everything at all costs. This will guide your child to make better choices in the future.
7. Exercise gratitude
It is very important that you show your child all the great things that happen to them and around them. Even on bad days, try to show that there is still good things to be cherished, a good lesson to be learned. In addition to putting children – and adults – in better moods, it keeps them engaged and excited for their projects and continued action.
8. Be the role model of an emotionally healthy person
As I said earlier, children learn by example; they will always pay attention to how you act and what you say, and whether these behaviors are congruent. Many parents don’t realize that, when there is a contradiction between the two, they will lose their little one’s trust and respect, so be consistent and don’t make that mistake! Talk about your goals and dreams with your child and show what steps you are taking to make them real. Be a constant seeker of knowledge, starting with the self. Talk to your children about the changes you seek to improve in order to grow.