How to make our children emotionally resilient
There’s an increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of a sound emotional quotient (EQ) which is far more important than the intelligence quotient (IQ). If you’re wondering what the difference is, well, an IQ can get your child those extra grades in school, but the EQ can get the child sail through life’s challenges. While there are board games and activities that claim to boost your child’s IQ, nurturing your child’s EQ is more of an inside job and that only you as a parent can do.
Based on a recent study by the Industrial Psychiatry Journal – “According to much recent academic work, a good deal of our successes and failures in life are not attributable to our cognitive abilities as measured by tests of IQ, but, rather are attributable to our abilities to form and maintain social relationships, portray ourselves positively, and manipulate how others perceive us. Those who lack such understanding may be said to lack Emotional Intelligence (EI), a type of intelligence that may be more important in reaching one’s goals than traditional intelligence as measured by tests of IQ.”
Unfortunately, there used to be a time when we were growing up, especially girls were taught not to express themselves and control our emotions while boys were taught not to cry. Thankfully this is changing now.
Today, parents who are keen to make a positive difference, we can do simple things to nurture our child’s emotional resilience and here are some tips:
A child needs to be understood.
If your child comes up to you feeling upset about something, don’t dismiss it. Acknowledge his feelings. Make him feel that you understand. It is going to give him a lot of relief. A word of caution here, at times, don’t try to fix things; just be a good listener. Trying to fix things or situations can upset the child because all he wants is someone to listen to him.
Children learn by observing.
Our children are like sponges as they absorb everything they see. It is how we as parents behave in times of crisis that is going to translate how they’re going to handle things. Instead of always complaining that things aren’t going right the way we had planned, try and rephrase it to “Okay, things aren’t going the way I had planned, but I’m sure I’ll get through this.” This positive approach is definitely going to have a positive effect on you and that will be absorbed by your child too; that if his mum or dad can handle this, so can he.
Let them vent it out.
How hard as it may be for you, allow the child to vent out her frustrations. At times you may be baffled why your child is behaving in a certain way. It could be that something must be bothering her. In such cases, let her vent it out. Speak comforting words that are understanding, such as, “You must be so irritated today. Your puzzle didn’t turn out the way you expected.” Or “Your toy car is broken, oh my! That must be really upsetting.” Many times, a child calms down when she feels she’s understood. Try it.
Solving a problem.
How do you teach life skills to your child? It’s no rocket science, trust me. You see, unlike a math paper, where the child can erase a mistake and write the correct answer, life doesn’t give you options like that. So we have to equip our children with problem-solving skills, starting with something simple.
For instance, earlier, I would get irritated when my daughter would spill milk, especially when we’re in a hurry to get ready for school. I realised it would hurt her a lot as she would observe my reaction. From then on, I consciously made a habit of telling her to bring the kitchen cloth and wipe the table clean without showing any frustration on my face (trust me, initially, it was hard, but now it’s really okay). Now, I don’t have to tell her anymore. Whether she spills milk or water, she mops it clean on her own and carries on playing, feeling happy and proud. I feel pleased to see how gently I have empowered my little girl to be able to ‘solve’ her own problems with a simple act of wiping off the spilt milk.
Being a single parent, I sometimes face several challenges when bringing up a child. Now, as she’s growing up, my daughter realizing many aspects of a so called ‘regular society’. She sees her friends have a ‘double parent’ family as compared to us. There are times she’s very upset and while I am helpless, I try and let her connect with her emotions as that I feel a part of her growing up process.
How I handle such situations is that we read books or tell each other stories and there we try to understand situations and if we don’t like a certain story, we either try to accept it as a part of a story or try and change the ending to a happier one. Personally, I have found this process very helpful as it has helped us understand and accept situations that are not in our control.
Be kind to yourself.
Being a parent is a challenging task. To teach our children to be emotionally resilient, we have to up our resilience first by being loving and forgiving to ourselves. There will be times when you will mess up, goof up and there will be good days too. It is on the bad days that you need to love yourself more. During my divorce, I remember how hard it was for me to get up and get going. Even during my toughest days, my daughter has seen me get up, dress up and show up. This is a motto I live by. And I always tell her, that it is okay to cry, it is okay to fail, as long as we get up, dress up and show up.
To teach our children to be emotionally resilient, we have to be loving and forgiving to ourselves first. We have to set the right examples, be good listener to them, allow them to vent out their frustrations and help them understand and accept situations. Inculcating emotional resilience does not happen overnight; it is a gradual, lifelong process, but the fruits are beautiful.
Contributor: Tanya Munshi
Writing Mentor & Founder of The Lifestyle Portal.
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