How to Raise Mentally Strong Children
Raising mentally strong kids is not in the forefront of a new mother’s mind as she is breastfeeding, changing diapers, and getting hardly any sleep. But it’s of utmost importance that moms, and dads alike, have an understanding that from birth, they are responsible for the emotional and mental development of their child, along with the physical.
When I had my son 8 years ago, I would have never imagined writing an article like this. I was in survival mode. There was no thought in my mind about how I needed to meet my child’s emotional needs.
Remember that feeling as you walk out of the hospital after giving birth (or your wife giving birth) to the tiny human you never thought could steal your entire heart all in one moment? You’re sleep deprived, anxious, emotional, and not quite sure you have what it takes to keep baby alive.
After my first son was born I couldn’t watch a show, read an article, or listen to any stories of children being kidnapped, hurt, or killed for about 5 years. To this day I try and avoid such things. Why? Because in a mother’s heart towards her children is a love so profound, that the thought of the evil in this world makes her want to turn into the meanest grizzly bear on earth, stand on her hind legs, and bring down every son of a b**** that would ever think of hurting a child.
Yes, that is what God instilled in the heart of a mother. So most of us, naturally, already know what it is our children need. But what if there are some things we could do that can specifically attend to the emotional and mental needs of our kids?
What if we are missing some vital points to make sure our 3, 5, 10 year old, who will one day be 19, doesn’t get confused, depressed, turn inward and someday do the unthinkable? Unfortunately, these are the things we need to be aware of.
Teen suicide is at an all time high. We have to be proactive, because our natural instincts might not be enough to do everything we can in helping our children have a healthy mind, heart, and soul when it comes to raising kids in this declining environment.
Above anything, understand that we aren’t ultimately in control of the overall health and safety of our children or emotionally giving our child what they need — which brings me to my first point.
7 tips to give your child what they need emotionally and mentally
Pray for your children
If we don’t have control, who does? God does. Praying for your kids not only does something for them, it reminds you of who is in control. There is a lot of anxiety attached to being a parent. What better place to leave your children than in the hands of the One who created them, knows their every thought, and loves them more than we do.
2. Stay up to date and aware of what’s happening in the world
Sticking our heads in the sand won’t do us any good when it comes to raising mentally healthy children. What you don’t know can’t hurt you? Actually, yes, it can.
Thankfully my husband takes the reigns on this one. He reads the news like it’s no one’s business, and has been his entire life. Because I feel that he is knowledgable about the world, I don’t have to get depressed and anxious every day just with reading a news headline.
That doesn’t mean I don’t stay informed. I read articles appropriate to my sensitivity level, and let my husband keep up on the gruesome details. As a team, we are informed, which is the best place to be as parents.
Being informed is among the most important when it comes to things your kids are doing; video games, social media, current bullying problems, societal behaviors, etc.
When you stay current on what’s happening, you can have a better understanding of what your children are up against in the current times.
with this knowledge, you can stay proactive and one step ahead of things, instead of trying to pick up the pieces.
Obviously, we can’t protect them from everything. But staying current will sure give you the upper-hand.
3. Attend to their hearts and not their behavior
I’ve written a few articles that go a bit more in-depth on this subject.
Basically, when we only tend to wrong behavior from our child, we are missing the mark of delving deeping into their heart to find out what the real issue is.
Sending your child to his/her room because they talked back isn’t dealing with the real issue. Why did they talk back? Were they feeling unheard? Were they frustrated because of something you did, or were they just having a bad day?
To make sure that your childs behavior isn’t stemming from something deeper, you have to ask the hard questions, talk with them on a human level, and not just send them away at your own convenience.
It’s with these conversations and moments that you can truly understand who you child is, where they are coming from, and empathize with their position.
Discipline is still absolutely necessary. But they need to know why their behavior was wrong, what they could have done instead, all while listening to their heart as to why they made a certain decision.
4. Recognize that parenting is no walk in the park
There will be wonderful days. There will be horrible, awful, no good days. Parenting is a myriad of getting pooped on, yelled at, smacked, disrespected, and not being able to leave them on someone else’s doorstep.
One day you will look at your child and wonder how on earth you deserve something so incredible, and the next you will get the door slammed in your face after being told you’re the scum of the earth.
Recognizing it’s not easy is one thing. Putting in the leg work when it isn’t easy is another. You can either choose to take things head on, and do the work that parenting requires. Or let your child grow up without direction, at your own convenience.
Obviously, there is a time and a place for YOU time. Don’t neglect that. But being a parent is NOT and never will be comfortable.
5. Make sure it’s astoundingly clear to your children that they can share their heart with you — the good, the bad, and the ugly
Children being transparent with their parents is a bit hard to come by, especially when they get older. But starting young with them, and asking questions that don’t end in a yes or no answer are where it’s at.
6. Talk to them, don’t yell at them
It’s so difficult, in the heat of a moment, to not get frustrated and yell because of something your child did that was disobedient. I get it. I’ve yelled at my son a handful of times.
Most of the time, parents yell at their kids because their child isn’t listening, is disrespectful, or did something opposed to what they wanted.
But what people don’t realize, is that addressing a situation where you would normally yell, with love, will work ten times more than if you would lose your cool. Why? Because when you yell, you’re bringing light to their behavior and disobedience, instead of dealing with the heart issue, like what I mentioned above.
Also, children usually act out because they are wanting attention, so making sure you are giving them their required attention. So many times, we brush our kids off, and think that they are acting out because they didn’t get their way. And sometimes it might be that.
But make sure that their emotional needs are being met from you as a parent. This includes being genuinely interested in them as people. Love on them, hang out with them, talk to them with kindness and ask them questions about their life.
When you establish this young, then it will be second nature to the both of you when they get older. It won’t feel forced, but rather how it’s always been.
And most importantly, if you do yell, admit it when you’re wrong! That brings me to the final aspect.
7. Admit it when you’re wrong, and apologize
So many current avenues of parenting are heading towards parents allowing whatever your child feels is right. I couldn’t dissagree with this technique more.
How would you feel if your mom or dad never had any admission of wrong they have done against you? It would feel pretty bad, right?
Well, becasue we need to model what healthy looks like for our children, we ourselves need to do what we would want them to do. If you want your child to do whatever they feel like in life, then they will meet a myriad of problems when things don’t always go their way.
If I am crabby and irritable with my son, I always apologize to him after the fact. This does a few things. It shows them that even as a parent — in their innocent eyes, parents are often perceived as perfect — you aren’t perfect and that’s okay, while also modeling what humility is.
Humility is one of the most important characteristics you could teach your child. It helps them arrive at gratitude, accept imperfection, and put others before themselves. In other words, it keeps them from turning into selfish little brats. And the best way to teach them humility, is to model it yourself.
Admittion of wrong is one thing, but going to extra mile to say, “I’m sorry I wronged you — you don’t deserve that,” is where they can in turn learn how to apologize to others.
In a world that is bringing up self-focused, narcissistic people, you can raise your children to be life givers, happy, joyful, content, grateful people.
Helping them succeed in life doesn’t mean teaching them to put all of their own needs and problems at the forefront of their minds — which is by popular belief stupid. But by teaching them to care for others, their problems won’t seem so significant.
This doesn’t mean dissengaging from their issues and struggles, no. It means to help to see the good in the bad of a situation, and direct them towards something positive.
Directing their minds towards what thex DO have, instead of what they DON’T, will enable them to combat this narcissistic society of self that we live in today.