5 Ways to Teach Kids Emotionally Healthy Behaviors
Success is about more than landing a dream job and having sufficient finances.
Contentment, happiness, and joy are equally important. If we want our kids to have healthy relationships in the future, we have to show them what healthy relationships look like right now. Here are 5 ways you can teach and model emotionally healthy behaviors for your kids.
Practice Active Listening
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable”- David Augsburger. This quote always stuck with me, because in some ways, to be heard is to be loved. One of the most important things we can do for our kids is to listen to them, and teach them how to listen to others.
When I say “listen” I don’t mean just hearing someone out while you think about how you’re going to reply. I mean really taking in what they are saying, assuming that there is something you could learn from them, and valuing what they have to say. This is called active listening. When we listen actively to our children, they will not only feel heard and loved, but they will also learn how to listen to others in the same way. You can help your kids practice their listening skills with you, their siblings, or a friend.
“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable”- David Augsburger.
Talk to Your Kids About Healthy Boundaries in Relationships
Few things are more important for relationships than healthy boundaries. If you grew up in a family that practiced healthy boundaries, establishing these boundaries will be second nature for your kids. But even if you did not, you can still learn with your kids and discover how to implement healthy boundaries together.
Teach your kids that it is okay for them to have standards about how they want people to treat them. Teach them that it is okay for them to walk away from a situation or even a friendship if those boundaries are repeatedly crossed. You may consider beginning with Henry Cloud’s book Boundaries.
Model Self Care and Healthy Boundaries
The best way to teach emotionally healthy behaviors is to model them for your kids. Kids will catch on to what we do, and they will often follow suit. When we practice emotionally healthy behaviors such as active listening and establishing healthy boundaries, we are showing our kids how to do the same for themselves.
Teach them how to Fight Clean using Negotiation
There will inevitably be arguments in your home, especially among siblings. This is just a part of growing up. However, the fights can be clean. If we teach our kids some negotiating skills, we can help them develop skills that will lead to healthy relationships and behavior in the future. You can teach your kids to use “I” statements to state their feelings and their preferences. For example, “I feel sad when you use my paint set without asking me. Can you please ask me before you use it?”
A clean fight is a negotiation. The end goal of a clean fight is to resolve a problem with the relationship intact. When you teach your kids how to fight clean, you’re giving them the gift of friendship for life. Siblings that learn how to get along when they are young will often go on to have healthy friendships with one another as adults. They are also more likely to have healthier relationships with future friends, co-workers, and colleagues.
A clean fight is a negotiation. The end goal of a clean fight is to resolve a problem with the relationship intact.
Consider Enrolling them in A Course about Emotional Health
If you’re like most of us, you probably want some guidance in teaching your kids emotional health. No worries, everyone needs a little guidance in this area. When we lead busy lives, it can be so hard to take the time for teaching these lessons.
You could consider enrolling your child in a life coach course through Monster Education, that is focused on emotional health and relationships. Designed for kids, it is taught in live video classes with 4-6 students by a certified life coach and focuses on mindfulness and emotional intelligence approaches.
However you decide to teach your kids about an emotionally healthy lifestyle, know that you’re ahead of the game just because you’re making an effort. They will carry these lessons with them throughout their lives, and your care and effort will be so worth it.
Allisa Corfman is a homeschooling mom of four children and a former English and History teacher in public and private high schools. Allisa was homeschooled from Kindergarten through 8th grade. She graduated from The University of Dubuque with a degree in Secondary Education. Now a freelance writer, she’s active in the homeschool community in Dubuque, IA.