4 Tips for Raising Happy, Emotionally Healthy Children

“Emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages.” ~Daniel Goleman   I consider myself an expert on the emotional needs of children. Mostly because I was one. No one goes into parenthood anticipating the ways they will psychologically damage their children. At least I don’t think they do. I hope not. It’s far more likely that most go into parenthood wanting the best for their children, hoping to do more for them than their own parents were able to do. So, why is it that so many come out of childhood scathed in some way? My parents fed me and sheltered me. I learned how to take care of myself physically and to manage the tasks of adulthood. I was responsible and productive. Yet, I was far from happy and fulfilled. I did not come out of childhood feeling good about myself. I had no idea how to identify how I was feeling, let alone express it in ways that were not destructive in some way. I did not learn what a healthy relationship looked like, with myself or others. Technologically and economically speaking, we have made tremendous strides in the last 100 years. It is actually pretty phenomenal if you take a minute to look at history. World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars took up resources and energy in the early to mid part of the 20th century, and everyone had to step up and out of their comfort zones to keep things going, within the family and within our country. There was tremendous change on a national level. The earlier part of those 100 years were often about survival for families. Putting food on the table and a roof over their heads was a priority. Everyone doing their part in managing household responsibilities was paramount. Disposable income and disposable time were luxuries. For the most part, that has all changed. Huge technological and economical advancement only left psychological and emotional growth lagging sorely behind. Does anyone find it strange that we spend twelve years or more in an education system, which is supposed to prepare us for life, but no one teaches us how to navigate our own emotional world? We take classes for everything from learning to draw to playing an instrument to getting a medical degree or becoming an accountant to learning karate and gymnastics or learning to cook, yet we get little to no education on our psychological and emotional health. We are completely caught up in and focused on our physical health, unaware that our emotional health or lack thereof plays out in our bodies every minute of every day. Why does mental health have a stigma and physical health does not? They are completely intertwined. If we were healthier emotionally, we would be healthier physically. I think most of us would agree that the world often looks like it [...]