How do you instill mental and emotional well-being in children?
There’s nothing complicated about raising your children to feel good about themselves and act out healthy behaviors. It’s a simple matter of taking time to think through the process.
Psychologists say it’s vital to help your child form a healthy self-image. All of us formulate our decisions and actions based on what we think about ourselves.
Here are some tips for directing your children:
• Point out their strong points. Tell your child, “I like the way you clean your room,” or “I’ve noticed you take good care of your pets.”
• Use a sense of humor to cover their weaknesses. If you know your child has zero aptitude for learning to play piano, joke about your own failed attempt at learning the guitar.
• Teach your children to master their daily routines. This includes spending time on chores, sports, friends and homework. A child who is confident about moving through a healthy routine daily will grow up much more well-adjusted.
• Show your children how to relate to others, which can enhance their emotional health as well.
Well-adjusted people deal with others in ways such as these:
• They keep boundaries in place. They verbalize what they can give or do with other people. They don’t feel overwhelmed by being close to other people if they can verbalize their own limits with ease.
• They learn to discern character. Life becomes very hard if we refuse to judge someone’s character. Believing everyone is OK is a recipe for disaster.
• Emotionally health kids know they “own” their own space. They need to take charge of their own thoughts, words and actions.
Consider the gap year
Is your high school senior burned-out? The concept of a gap year, which is generally considered a year off between high school and college, is becoming increasingly popular.
The gap year is usually a self-designed program that allows students to travel, work, explore their interests, perform community service, intern, etc. The overwhelming consensus from college admissions professionals, parents and gap-year participants is that the gap-year experience is almost always life-changing.
• Apply to college. Students are far better off if they apply to college with their peers to keep their options open. At the end of the application and notification process, students will need to decide where they want to attend college and submit a letter requesting that their admission be deferred for a year. Colleges like to see what students have planned for their time off, so provide details of intended travels, programs, etc.
• Create a plan. Discuss financial expectations. A few gap year resources: www.gapyear.com, www.takingoff.net and www.interimprograms.com.
• Think about the details, such as costs involved, as well as staff to student ratio, structure of the program, independent time and what happens if your child is unhappy, sick or injured.