How We Can Help Our Children To Talk About Feelings – Help Them To Be Strong Confident Adults – Help Them To Be Themselves

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    This is an area I believe will become an even bigger problem in generations to come if we do not teach our younger generation it is ok ‘not to be perfect’. There are many levels of mental health, so many start with low self-esteem and self-belief. We are all affected by how others view us, those with low self-esteem can be deeply affected. When talking to students I often ask them – “if you have a pain in your tummy, would you tell your friend?” All answer, “Yes of course”.

    “If you are feeling low, upset, angry, confused, overwhelmed, would you tell your friend?” “Mmmm, maybe not”, was the reply from many.

    Why? Why are we so afraid of being honest about our emotional health? Physical health and emotional health are equal in importance and yet there is such a stigma attached to talking about feelings, admitting that all is not perfect.

    This comes up again and again in my area of work. Kids feel ‘no one’ likes them – they may feel they are not cool enough, smart enough, pretty enough, popular enough…. this is so sad and can have a very deep impact on them emotionally.

    Teenagers may feel they are not cool, not part of the cool gang, too fat, too thin, their skin is a problem, their hair is a problem or they may just feel they are not capable of much.

    Young adults may feel they are lost, they do not know who they are supposed to be, they do not know what they want to do with their future, they may find it hard then others close to them do not seem to know who they are.

    Adults – where do we start and where do we end? Emotional issues do not disappear unless they are dealt with. Whether it is underlying issues with relationships with parents, siblings, friends. Issues with husbands, partners…. not feeling confident as a parent, not feeling capable as a person, not feeling loved – the list is endless.

    I strongly believe if we were all a little bit more honest about how ‘not perfect’ our lives are, it would normalise a lot of this and maybe people would find it easier to talk about emotional issues with each other.

    If we teach our kids it is ‘ok’ not to be the best in the class, the most popular, the sportiest – they need to know it is ok not to feel ‘ok’. It is ok to be sad, to be angry, to be lonely, to be confused. It is ok.

    Communication is a two way street, maybe if we share our feelings more (where appropriate) with our kids, we can help normalize feelings for them. Kids need to believe they are loved unconditionally – whether they make the first team in rugby or not – whether they get top grades or not. Too many times we see kids playing out a role to please their parents – please be careful of this as this kid will not find it easy to be true to himself – if he is trying to be someone else to please his parents. This may sound harsh but unfortunately is a harsh reality and one I see too often. Kids need to believe it is ok to be themselves. It is ok to fail, to ask for help, it is ok to be different, it is ok to follow ‘their own’ dreams.

    It is not always easy to accept your child is not going to be the rugby player you presumed he would, or the doctor you had hoped she would, but it is time we all really listened to our kids and understand who they are and who they hope to be. I do believe this is one little step that would really help. There is no benefit to us having doctors who want to be artists, teachers who want to be doctors, bankers who want to be social workers etc….if we were all a little bit more honest and a little bit more accepting we might end up with the best doctors, teachers, artists, bankers, social workers because this would be their passion – their ‘own’ passion and that will ensure they will be ‘the best they can be’.

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