They are also more self-confident, physically healthier and less likely to abuse drugs or engage in other destructive behaviors.
Parents can help children develop the basic emotional and social skills they need to cope in life by becoming “emotional coaches.” The ultimate goal is to help children learn to manage emotional crises of their own:
1. Be aware of your child’s emotions. Sometimes it’s easy to see that a child is angry, hurt, fearful or happy. Just watch his furrowed brow, tapping foot or dancing eyes. Other times, you must look beyond the surface. Headaches, overeating, not eating and nightmares are all signs of emotional distress.
2. Recognize emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching. When you express interest and concern about a bad math grade or a betrayal by a friend, your child learns that he can trust you to be his ally in solving problems.
3. Validate how your child feels. Listen with your heart to understand what your child is saying with words and body language. Then reflect back what your child is feeling in a soothing, non-judgmental way.
4. Help your child label emotions. Is she frustrated, jealous, left-out, nervous or empty? The more precisely she can express her feelings in words, the easier it is to accept them and deal with them.
5. Set limits while you help your child solve problems. Separate feelings from action. Then help your child focus on what he would like to accomplish related to the problem at hand.
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