Parents’ Role in Fostering Kids’ Healthy Emotional & Social Development
As parents, we are responsible for fostering in our kids a healthy emotional and social development. In fact, as parents, we are the biggest influence in how our kids develop emotionally and socially. That is because our kids spend more time with us than anyone else over time, and our kids will likely grow to pattern their behaviors after the model we have set for them. So, how can we best foster health emotional and social development in our kids?
*Lead by example. By consistently displaying emotional intelligence and healthy social relationships, we can set the paradigm for our kids. Emotional intelligence is defined as the skill of perceiving, identifying, understanding, and managing one’s own emotion. A healthy social relationship is defined as a relationship in which both parties to the relationship give and receive friendship reciprocally; feel understood, respected, and valued; and are free to establish healthy boundaries with each other. We display emotional intelligence when we maintain calm in the midst of a chaotic situation. We display emotional intelligence when we allow ourselves to acknowledge our grief and cry upon the death of a loved one. We display healthy social relationships when we take turns hosting card club, exhibit understanding and nurturing when someone is hurting, and periodically decline social invitations without fear of damaging relationships.
*Talk about emotional intelligence and healthy social relationships with our kids. For example, “I know you were mad, Johnny, but was throwing that toy across the room the best way to express how you were feeling? What could you have done differently to let me know you were upset without being destructive?” Or, “Janie, I know Tessa wants you to do her chores for her, but I don’t understand why Tessa isn’t doing her own chores. She’s not out of town. She’s not ill. Can you tell me why Tessa wants you to do her chores? (wait for answer) Oh, I see. Is that the way you think a friend would treat you?”
*Monitor the exposure our kids have to others who may help set their paradigms. Expose our kids to other people who exhibit emotional intelligence and have healthy social relationships. Ensure that our television and movie viewing reinforces the lessons we are teaching about emotional intelligence and healthy social relationships. Talk with our kids when they become exposed to people or situations that are inconsistent with these lessons: ensure that our kids know that alternate choices can ultimately result in harm (i.e., lower self-esteem, less respect from others, etc.).
By following these tips, we can foster our kids’ healthy emotional and social development.
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