Having secure, kind, and resilient children is a parent’s ultimate dream. But when difficulties arise — how do we navigate the storms?
In an Instagram post, attachment therapist Eli Harwood advises parents on the best seven ways they can create secure and resilient children.
7 Truths Every Parent Needs To Hear To Raise More Secure and Resilient Children
1. Feelings are not choices.
Children don’t have control over their feelings like adults do. And in certain stages, it can feel nearly impossible for a child to control their emotional outbursts.
Dr. Rouse tells the Child Mind Institute, “A child’s innate capacities for self-regulation are temperament and personality-based.”
Just as some babies have a hard time soothing themselves, some children can’t emotionally regulate themselves.
How we react as parents can make or break our children’s development. Harwood writes in her Instagram post, “Children need us to offer them calm and connected responses to their emotional states so that they learn to feel safe in the face of their feelings.”
However, when a parent consistently self-soothes or babies their kid, things can turn left quickly.
So, how do we help our children self-regulate?
Executive director Scott Bezsylko tells Child Mind Institute that self-regulation is a skill to be taught rather than a tool to be used. He says, “When you think of it as a skill to be taught — rather than, say, just bad behavior — it changes the tone and content of the feedback you give your kids.”
Try going on practice runs with your child. Go to the grocery store when you don’t need much, then walk hand in hand with your child. Give them points for successful runs and be sure to break the activity down into doable steps.
For instance, if the goal is for your child to dress independently — start with the shirt rather than the whole outfit. Smaller steps such as these make it more tangible.
2. We affect the way our children’s brains develop.
“Our children’s brains are shaped in response to their relationship with us. If we are warm and calm (most of the time), their brain will focus on higher-level development (more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. If we are harsh or dismissive, their brain will focus more on primal survival strategies such as hyper-alert states or shutting down emotional centers (larger amygdala or less cell density in hippocampus),” writes Harwood.
Through parenting your actions will help support their development, according to the CDC. When both parents take active roles and play with their children — that’s when your child learns best. Through nurturing and care you protect your child from stress.
According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “Stress is seen as detrimental to a child’s development, leading to learning, behavioral, and physical issues.”
Through exposing your kids to storytelling, literature, music, and different languages — you put them on a path to success, writes the CDC.
3. Impulse control is a skill that takes years to develop.
“Unfortunately, children’s impulse control is developed over time — it’s not automatically inherited”, writes Harwood.
And when we look at our children’s ability to self-soothe we need to examine what state they are in. Ask yourself, “Did my child have a good night? Did they get plenty of rest? Did they eat properly and are they well hydrated?” if the answer is yes you can expect better impulse control. If it’s no then good luck — they aren’t cooperating anytime soon,” advises Harwood.
By asking these questions you can better prepare for what behavior to expect that day, then plan accordingly.
4. Repair is more secure than perfection.
Let’s face it, being the perfect parent is a pretty unreasonable expectation. But denying your mistakes as a parent can impact your child drastically. Harwood explains, “Children learn how to be humble, accountable people capable of repair by having parents who live those rhythms.”
When you refuse to take accountability you inevitably teach your children to do the same.
So, how do we take accountability when we make a mistake? Conquering Kindergarten first tells parents to talk through mistakes with their children.
When you lash out, tell your child, “Hey, I know I lashed out on you earlier today, I’m sorry. In the future when I feel angry, I will take a few minutes for myself. That way I don’t take my anger out on you, okay?”
Through owning up — you teach your children to feel comfortable doing the same.
5. Actions are louder than lectures.
Ever heard the saying, “The blind leading the blind?” Through expecting behavior from your child you don’t model — you essentially do the same.
Harwood writes, “The human brain is equipped with mirror neurons that help us process the actions of others as a way to learn more adaptively.”
When you expect better from yourself your child will inevitably follow.
If you aren’t sure how to, here are a few things you can do according to American SPCC:
- Invest in yourself through education or pursuing your goals.
- Taking accountability for your wrongful actions.
- Being a kind and compassionate individual.
6. Delight is a vaccination against disconnection.
Joy is contagious and can bring the best out of anyone — including your children. Harwood states, “Our lighting up teaches them that they are delightful which gives them a sense of worthiness to take into the world outside of our homes.”
Through joy, you and your child can learn to brave the bad weather together.
But, what happens if you are having a horrible day with your child? How can you remain positive?
Try changing your perspective, advises Licensed Counselor Jill Cedar. Cedar writes, “What if we changed our parenting styles and parenting philosophies? What if we chose to view parenting through rose-colored glasses? What if we decided not to take everything so seriously?”
Remember, we have better control over our own emotions than our children do.
Here are small changes you can make, according to Cedar:
- Re-think the problem. What is your child getting out of their bad behavior?
- Lowering your expectations — they are just kids!
- Your child’s phase will pass with time.
- Ask your partner for more help.
- Try connecting with your child outside of discipline.
- Parent the child you have rather than the one you hoped for
- Look at things from a child’s perspective.
7. A secure connection is the soil for growing independence.
Secure independence starts with a secure connection.
“When our children feel they are worthy of love their confidence flourishes. After all, there’s a comfort in knowing you have support no matter what happens. Through this secure connection — your child will begin to feel secure in exploring the world around them,” writes Harwood.
However, some parents struggle with developing a secure connection with their children. If this is you try and express love to your child daily.
According to Family Services, “Human touch and loving affection are needed at every stage of our lives for healthy emotional and neurobiological development.”
Give your child hugs and kisses — they need that one-on-one connection for their brain development.
Make sure your child feels listened to and understood.
Listen to your child and assure them that you’re there for them. Through this you will foster mutual respect.
According to Family Services a few other things you can do are:
- Eat your meals together.
- Play with them.
- Put away any distractions while interacting with them.
- Create a schedule to organize play dates with your child.
Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.