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By Nishaya Ahmed
Considering the impact a child's formative years have on their upbringing and the influence parents have on their kids, understanding the responsibility of being a parent or caregiver is essential. Giving the right support in the early years can lead to positive outcomes in later life and help foster and cultivate strong social and emotional capabilities in children which are fundamental for their future.
Comprehension of the term ‘emotional well-being’ is also important to fully identify how parents can be supportive. Emotional well-being is associated with a child's ability to communicate and constructively interact with others. Children in their youth, vulnerability, and inexperience often get frustrated; and the inability to effectively handle these frustrations can harm a child’s emotional well-being. Hence, parents must be supportive in creating an environment that allows them to manage their emotions and frustrations properly.
Children who are left unsupported in this development, lack the skills necessary to communicate effectively, and may only be able to communicate through displays of anger and frustration, demonstrating the difficulties with their emotional health. This conflict with their emotional health may manifest in lower self-esteem and socially withdrawn behaviors. So, how can parents help develop and fortify the emotional well-being of a child? One research to strengthen the emotional well-being of children suggests that observation, identification, association, and assistance are key.
There are four steps in this particular research that you, as a parent or caregiver, can take to help your child deal with emotions. The first is for you as an adult to recognize the emotion the child is displaying. Observe the child and identify the behavior they are exhibiting. Try and understand which emotion is linked to this particular behavior.
Naming this emotion for the child is the next step in the process. Is it anger? Is it frustration? Are they tired? Perhaps they are overwhelmed? This will show the child that you understand their emotions and behaviors. It may also prove helpful to confirm with the child whether the emotion that you have identified is indeed what the child is feeling.
Once you’ve given their emotion a name, the third step in the process is to provide the necessary comfort. We say it all the time to kids, “It’ll be okay”.
The fourth and final step is to offer the solution. If you recognize that the child is tired or overwhelmed, you can suggest taking a nap or doing a few breathing exercises. If they are frustrated, you can try removing the object of their frustration. If the homework they are currently attempting is the object of their frustration, give the child a break from the homework and revisit it once the child is refreshed.
These four steps can be a wonderful technique to introduce to your parenting and caregiving toolkit and you may already be utilizing them. This process of observing, identifying, associating, and assisting will show the child that their feelings matter, that their feelings have been acknowledged and that there is a way to stop the negative feelings they are feeling. Eventually, the child will be able to use what they have learned from you and apply it themselves to effectively manage their emotions.
As mentioned earlier, giving the right kind of support for the child is paramount for the strengthening of their emotional well-being. This will result in the child feeling good about themselves. With enhanced self-esteem, children can divert and focus their attention towards learning, creating, communicating, and triumphing. Remember, when you support the child emotionally, not only are their lives enriched and empowered, you are also propelling them into the future they wish to create for themselves.