You may be a parent looking for ways to emotionally support your child. Whether your child is a younger child or an adolescent, these 4 tips can help you establish healthy emotional support with them! Emotional support is one concept that may often not be taken as seriously as it should.
Emotional support is defined as showing care and compassion for another person, whether verbally or through actions. While some instances can be regarded as unnecessary by most parents, such as your child being upset over not being able to have candy or not being bought an item, the feelings that come with those experiences are real for them.
These are 4 ways you can emotionally support your child. The first is to take signs of struggling seriously. The second is to avoid belittling them for their feelings. Third, actively listen to their concerns or feelings. And finally, support them to find solutions to their problems. By implementing these skills now, you can emotionally support your child and help them evolve in their own emotional skills as well.
Parenting does not come with a guidebook or roadmap. Many factors such as your current living situation, your availability if you are working, relationships with family or friends, or even your relationship with yourself or your own mental health can impact your parenting, both positively and negatively.
Therapy for parents in Simi Valley, CA is a great option for those looking to expand on parenting skills and learn ways to grow as individuals themselves. This form of therapy is tailored to the unique needs and challenges of parents, to provide them with a supportive environment.
Parenting therapy in Simi Valley, CA provides you with a space to take a non-judgmental, close look at your current parenting methods to understand in what ways you can continue to grow individually and as a family.
4 Ways to Emotionally Support Your Child: Take signs of struggling seriously
Signs of struggling could include behavioral changes, emotional outbursts, and more. You may receive reports of behavioral issues at school or in extracurricular activities. This can include fighting with other children, struggling to listen or follow instructions, or overall causing disruption. These instances could also occur in the home as well.
Your child may also struggle with emotional outbursts, such as recurrent tantrums, feeling very angry or frustrated for unclear reasons, or showing signs of sadness or anxiety. They may express worries about going to school, participating in extracurriculars like music lessons or sports, engaging in social relationships, or their abilities within classes.
Alongside this, your child may openly express internal issues or concerns they have. This can look like negative self-talk, “I’m so stupid,” “I feel so ugly,” “I don’t have any friends in my class”. Children can struggle to identify and appropriately express emotions they are feeling and, in turn, may express feelings through behaviors or actions like hitting themselves, hitting others, outward defiance or disrespect, breaking toys, and more.
Whether you are parenting within an intact marriage or are co-parenting, actively communicating with your partner or outside support and resources is crucial. Make sure to check out our blog on 5 Tips to Successfully Co-Parent with Your Ex-Partner if you find yourselves disagreeing with parenting methods. Parenting therapy in Simi Valley, CA offers a space for all parents – no matter if you are a single parent, two parents, step-parents, or co-parents.
Connecting regularly with your child’s teachers, sports coaches, or providers can help bring further insight into your child’s behaviors, and what their needs may be.
4 Ways to Emotionally Support Your Child: Do not belittle them for their feelings
It can be easy to brush off children’s reactions or feelings as being dramatic, unnecessary, or personal attacks. You may feel that their reactions to being told no, not being allowed to do certain things, or overall reacting to something are overreactions. Simply labeling it as signs of developmental stages, like the “terrible twos” or “teenage angst” can minimize or create a barrier to truly understanding what may be going on.
It’s important to keep in mind that children and teenagers still have the same magnitude of big feelings that adults do. They can still experience extreme stress, sadness, or frustration. These feelings aren’t simply just to garner attention, but rather as an attempt to express themselves and seek support.
Children and teenagers are developmentally immature compared to most adults. In other words, they do not have the vocabulary or tools to properly communicate their needs, wants, or emotions which can sometimes look like tantruming, intense frustration or sadness, and more.
Avoid using certain sayings, such as telling them to “get over it,” that “big kids should not cry,” that you “don’t want to hear it,” they’re “being soft,” etc.. Avoid using threats such as, “If you don’t stop crying, I’m taking your [activity] away” or “If you don’t stop acting out now, I won’t give you any attention at all.” It takes a lot of patience and the ability to manage your own emotional reactions to how your child is behaving in order to effectively listen and help them.
Parenting is not an easy job. It’s important to not feel ashamed or negative towards yourself, as it is very common for parents to experience burn-out, feeling overwhelmed, or frustrated with their children. Consider starting individual therapy in Simi Valley, CA, where you will have a space to work through your own personal needs and get individualized support.
Pushing gender role expectations for young children can be detrimental and harmful. Telling boys that they are “soft” or need to “toughen up”, while telling girls that they need to “act girly” does not have long-term positive effects on their mental health.
4 Ways to Emotionally Support Your Child: Actively listen to their concerns or feelings
By actively listening to their concerns or feelings, you are providing them with a space to feel heard. As noted previously, children can struggle to identify and label their emotions, and connect that to what their needs may be at that moment. With your guidance, you can help them in developing these skills.
Some issues, such as civil disagreements with classmates, or a desire to own a new toy, can cause them to feel difficult or unfamiliar emotions. By hearing your child out without judgment or immediate solutions, you are reassuring them that it’s safe to talk with you about what’s going on for them. This can lead to increased trust and communication in your relationship.
Consider how you were raised as a child with your parent(s). Perhaps they lacked some critical communication skills or ability to provide you with a safe space for expressing yourself. Oftentimes, we can connect our present parenting skills to ones we experienced growing up.
Reflecting on how you felt during your own childhood can help provide some insight into how your child may be feeling now and what they may need more of. You can break generational parenting patterns and begin incorporating new, healthy, and positive ones – which is very powerful!
Consider reading our blog on 3 Reasons to Start Childhood Trauma Therapy to understand ways to heal your own inner child, to become the best parent you can be for your own children. Other forms of therapy, such as anxiety therapy in Simi Valley, CA or grief therapy in Simi Valley, CA can help address other areas of your life that you are needing support in.
Parenting therapy in Simi Valley, CA provides you with the skill sets and tools to actively listen to your child and validate their feelings.
4 Ways to Emotionally Support Your Child: Support them to find solutions to their problems
As parents, we can oftentimes feel an urgency to fix our children’s problems for them. We want to assist in any way we can, and help them feel better as soon as possible. It’s hard to see our kids struggling. However, when we take away their opportunity to sit with and move through their feelings in a supportive manner, we also deprive them of the chance to learn how to be able to cope or problem-solve themselves.
You know your child best; if they are whining or tantruming, they may have just been denied something they want, such as a snack, toy, or other things.
However, they may not be able to recognize that connection. Rather than caving in to get them to stop, or trying to shut down their emotional reactions, guide them to begin connecting the dots in a calm, validating way.
You can begin by stating the obvious to them: “You might be feeling ___ right now”. Ask them to describe what’s going on in their body: “What do you feel going on? Is your heart beating fast? Are you breathing quickly? Does your stomach hurt?”. Move to state the facts that: “When you feel *frustrated*, your heart may beat fast”.
Help them find ways to communicate this to you.
Structuring a sentence such as, “I’m starting to feel angry”, is a great start to identifying their emotions. Then, you can help them trace back to understand what may have made them feel angry. What just happened? Were they denied something, for example?
Continue structuring the sentence with them: “I’m starting to feel angry because I really wanted that toy”. Repeat that back to them: “I can see you are starting to feel angry because you really wanted that toy”. Include validation and setting boundaries, such as “I understand why you feel this way, and that is okay. It’s a nice toy, and we are not going to get it at this time.” Next you can help them explore possible options for redirecting emotions, finding areas of control, and coping with distress, such as “When we get home maybe we can choose a few toys to play with that are similar, or you can choose what you get to eat for lunch.”
It’s important that you also continue these exercises for happy or excited emotions! These do not need to be limited to feelings of sadness, anger, or stress. It’s good for them to be able to identify and label all emotions and bodily reactions that come up for them.
You do not need to only utilize these skills in times of tantruming or with difficult emotions. Maybe your child is excited about school, their interests or hobbies, where you can help them build their descriptive language to more accurately express themselves. As they continue to practice this skill with you, acknowledge their efforts, even if they do not fully get there right away.
Make sure to check out our blog on 4 Tips for Parenting Young Children, for further information on how you can support them at this essential time in their development!
You do not have to struggle with feeling burnt-out, frustrated, or overwhelmed alone. Parents are deserving of the same emotional support as their children, and often healthy parenting begins with understanding yourself better.
Consider calling our therapy group at (805) 774-1506 for a free and transparent consultation on how you can get started in parenting therapy, individual therapy, or family counseling! Our intake coordinator will guide you to finding the best fit service and therapist for your needs.
Seek out a validating, safe environment with us today. We will help you get to where you want to be. Our therapists provide teen therapy, individual adult therapy, LGBTQIA+ therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, family therapy, and more in-office in Simi Valley, CA.