Do As I Do (Parenting)-The Practical Side
Talk is cheap. What we say to our children about how they should behave, interact with others and manage stress is much less important than how we address these issues while our children are watching. And trust me, they are always watching. Our actions are far more powerful than our words. How we greet a store clerk, how we respond if someone is rude to us, what we do at the end of a long and stressful day when we get home—our children witness all of this. We are their number one model for how to interact with the world and people around them at least until they hit mid to late teens when their peers become the center of their world.
Before you begin to feel overly stressed that your behavior in front of your children must be perfect or devoid of stress, sadness or frustration, I want to offer this… As parents we have the responsibility and privilege to model mental health to our children, but this does not mean we are not allowed to struggle at times. The important thing is how we struggle and what we do to care for ourselves during difficult times. At some point during the 18 or more years that your child is under your roof, you are going to face personal life challenges. And while teaching manners, altruism, kindness and the like are important, demonstrating how to navigate life during the face of trials is even more important. I will speak more to this in the practical blog on this topic, but I want to challenge you to examine how you demonstrate the importance of mental health to your children. When you are upset, how do you care for yourself? Do you normalize to them that therapy is a healthy way to manage hard situations? Do you talk about how eating healthy foods, exercising and sleeping enough affect mental health? Do you acknowledge difficult feelings you or your child have? I encourage parents to not always hide their sadness or disappointment from their children. It is okay and healthy to say, “Mommy is crying because she is sad that grandma is sick,” or, “Daddy is angry that someone backed into his car in the parking lot.” Naming feelings helps your child understand their emotions and validates them.
Do you prioritize naming and talking about feelings in your home? Are you taking care of your own mental health so you can foster mental health in your children? If you need support, we are here to help. Our seasoned and trained mental health clinicians can provide the support and skills you need to thrive in your home so you can be the best parent possible for your children. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.