Parents worry – sometimes excessively about their children’s wellbeing.

  We all know that parents aren’t overreacting to the stressors children face daily, online or school bullying.

  We want to help our children to be emotionally strong and resilient, but it’s not an easy task. Having a meaningful conversation with a preteen or teenager is easier said than done. Getting their attention is, at times, impossible. Couple this problem with their unavailability, mentally and physically. Also, parental over-involvement can be counterproductive as it can increase anxiety,  both for parents and the children.  

  Honing our emotional intelligence can make this arduous task more manageable. 

  Emotional intelligence means being aware of our emotions and having the ability to express our feelings appropriately. It also means the ability to empathize or understand the feelings and thoughts of others.  

  Self-awareness helps you identify the thoughts and feelings that cause you to behave in a certain way. When you’re short-tempered with your seven-year-old for not cleaning their room, you’re able to step back and reflect on using a different approach next time.  It could be asking your child open-ended questions about the significance of doing chores before asking them to clean their room. In this instance,  tackling the issue of doing chores at home will set the tone for similar interactions when your child turns 13.

  By practicing wellness, you can be a role model for your children. For example, taking a deep breath can prevent intense anxiety and irritability. Self-care moments can be integrated as a family activity, thus providing a ritual to the delight of younger children and giving structure to older children.

  Parents are often at their wits’ end, trying to decipher whether their teen is depressed or just having mood swings.  Instead of asking direct questions about a sudden change in your child’s behaviour, like bringing home a half-eaten lunch and refusing to go to school, you can focus on normalizing your teen’s functioning.

  Sleep problems are one of the first signs of distress. Try to watch out for other signs of stress, such as loss of appetite and avoidant behaviours. The latter can include school refusal, missing classes, over-involvement in social media and social isolation as examples. 

  Identifying goals and displaying appropriate goal-directed behaviour is possible with a calmer mind. So, rather than worrying incessantly about your teen’s driving skills, you could start by conversing with them about their curfew time. It can lead to addressing your teen’s fears for their friends who drink and drive. Appraising the risk that their friends are taking can lead to talking about your child’s negative feelings.

  Identifying and labelling feelings can lead to self-empowerment, as your child can develop coping strategies. These coping skills can help your preteen to stay calm and take preventive measures for self-preservation.

  Hopefully, cultivating our emotional intelligence will help us maintain peace at home while guiding our children toward better school and life adjustment.

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.

The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;

 Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.