All children have the capacity to live emotionally healthy lives. Parents and teachers play a key role in influencing and nurturing this.
For children, being emotionally healthy requires:
- feeling loved
- believing in themselves
- being able to be happy
- feeling safe.
In order for parents and teachers to look after their child’s emotional health, they need to be able to look after their own.
Having good emotional health and strong psychological resilience helps parents to enjoy the good and difficult aspects of parenting. There are skills that parents can practice at home that will improve their own wellbeing and, in turn, their child’s emotional health.
Connect with your 'inner parent'.
Focus on the innate love you have for your child. Your desire to express this love helps you to get back in touch with yourself as a parent, and as a person. This connection can be delayed or blocked as challenges arise, but opening yourself up to this innate love keeps you energised and puts everything else into perspective.
Know how to be happy.
Having this ability allows us to enjoy life. It involves a number of skills, one of which involves accepting that you are unique. By doing this, you avoid comparisons with others and the stress of trying to conform to the ‘perfect parent’ type, of which there is no such thing. Your perfect parenting type is the one that fits best with your and your child’s needs.
Believe that you are a good person and a good parent.
Look for and recognise the best in yourself. This can help especially when we make mistakes and in building resilience toward criticism and negativity.
Ensure that you live in an emotionally healthy environment.
Creating a safe environment for yourself - where you feel physically safe, respected and valued - is essential to your psychological wellbeing. This includes having a support strategy for when emotional difficulties arise.
The author, Paul Gilligan, is a clinical psychologist and Chief Executive Officer of St Patrick’s Mental Health Services.
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