Take a moment to think back to your childhood. Do you recall times when an adult scoffed at your concerns and dismissed your emotions? How did it make you feel? Now, think about whether you take your child’s emotions seriously? If not, how do think this makes your child feel?
Acknowledge his emotions and help him to express them
Raising an emotionally well-balanced child begins with acknowledging his concerns and feelings, and helping him find ways to appropriately vent anger, frustration, fear, and sorrow. Your little one's fear of monsters under the bed is ‘real’ to them so a dismissive comment like “don’t be silly there are no such things as monsters” can be hurtful! Alternatively you could help him understand his fear, find the true source of his worry, and then tackle the emotional Bogeyman together.
Understanding the impact of emotions in our daily lives
Let's face it, emotions are at the centre of our lives. If you’re in a really good mood, you tend to see life in a more positive light – appreciate that the sun shining, be a lot friendlier to others, and not get so upset if your child spills juice on the carpet. It's easy to see that emotions affect how we see and interpret the world, and how we respond to and behave in it.
I’ve learned so much from the great work of Dr Joe Dispenza and interviewed him for my Inspired Children book where he shares his wealth of knowledge on raising emotionally intelligent kids. He shared in detail how he helped his own children to manage their emotions and behaviours by creating opportunities for them to learn and showing them, not telling them, how powerful they are in the world. Dr Joe’s children learned that they are able to make a huge impact in their own lives and the lives of those around and as such, they should be mindful of how their emotions and actions affect their surroundings.
For example, he introduced this powerful exercise in his home for all members of his family – parents and children together. With just three pieces of bread – on one piece they wrote the word 'Love', on the next 'Hate', and on the third, 'Ignore'. Each piece was then placed in separate plastic bags and the ignore was hidden away in a cupboard. Every night for an entire month, the whole family would say positive affirmations to the bread labelled 'Love' using words like, "I love you. You're a beautiful piece of bread. You're the best bread I've seen in my life" with as much love and energy as they could put into it. The 'Hate' bread was treated to vile words and negative emotions, while the 'Ignore' bread was simply forgotten deep in the cupboard. After a period of time, the children saw that the 'Love' bread wasn't mouldy and revolting as the 'Hate' bread. On the other hand, the 'Ignore' bread was the worst of the three. Through that exercise, Dr. Dispenza's children understood how their emotions affected how they treated objects around them, which in turn, affected the general state of the object itself. He then talked about how it affected them inside their body to say words of hate or love and how these words might impact family and friends if used. Dr Joe goes into more details about how to support a child’s emotional intelligence and power in the world in two chapters in Inspired Children: how the leading minds of today raise their kids.
In the same way we spend hours supporting our child’s academic achievements, raising an emotionally intelligent, well-balanced child requires instruction, effort, practice, discipline and a willingness for parents to grow and develop right beside their children.