What exactly is emotional health? It is the ability to identify, manage and communicate one’s emotions to those around you. It can take practice and even feel scary. Emotional health is important to maintain because it is a part of your overall health and wellbeing.
How can you promote emotional health in your home? Here are some ideas:
Respond Vs. React
Create a safe place for your children to talk about their emotions by practicing with responding instead of reacting. Reacting is typically a quick and emotional response that comes from a place of fear and a short-term outlook. Responding involves slowing down, evaluating the situation, using self-control and speaking out of a place of love and care. Examples of reacting may look like shouting, “Stop that crying right now!” versus a response more calmly, “You look upset, do you need a hug?”
Create opportunities for empathy
When working with kids in my office, I describe empathy as taking your shoes and putting on the shoes of someone else, walking around for a while to see what it is like. Empathy can be taught by doing service projects as a family, talk about other’s feelings, and model empathy with them by asking them how they are feeling and why.
Make maintaining emotional health fun with games
“High/Low” game – Each person takes a turn to tell the best and worst part of their day. This gives each family member a chance to share something that was meaningful and include something hurtful. Sometimes the hurt part of their day may include another family member. This is a great time to help guide an apology and forgiveness of the hurt. This is also a time to celebrate each other’s wins for the day.
“Would you Rather?” game – Family members make a choice of what they “would rather” do if given only two options. For example: Would you rather go to the moon or ride the highest roller coaster on earth? Would you rather live in Florida or New York? This allows children to practice decision making, empathy and vulnerability.
Read books at bedtime that include emotion words
When reading the book ask your child questions like these:
-What emotion is the character is feeling?
-How do you know the character is feeling that way?
-Do you ever feel like that?
-Tell me a time you felt that emotion.
Some book suggestions: Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, Mouse was mad by Linda Urban, Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley, The color monster by Anna Llenas, and The Warrior Kid series by Jocko Willink
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Get creative! Come up with games and books that suit your family and incorporate emotional health in your daily life.