Raising children is no easy task, and there are no shortcuts. The ever-shifting ocean of emotions that children go through at various ages and stages poses one of the greatest challenges to parents. Here are a few things that I have found helpful in teaching my children to deal with the negative emotions they experience.
Encouraging positive traits such as kindness, appreciation, gratefulness, integrity, and unselfishness at an early age will help prepare them to deal with negative situations they will encounter later.
Reading or watching classics that show the rewards of being positive and solution oriented—Pollyanna and Heidi, for example—impart important life lessons in an enjoyable, memorable way.
Being a friend and confidante in good times makes it easier to discuss and find solutions together when problems arise.
Older children can be shown the futility of giving in to negative emotions. Balance reasoning with lots of encouragement, as well as humor when appropriate.
When I notice negative trends in my children, I first ask myself if they are a reflection of what they see in me. If so, we talk about it from that angle and agree to work on it together. For instance, I’m prone to stress and the negativity it can lead to, but explaining that has helped us avoid problem situations. They understand now that it triggers a negative reaction when they stay up too late or don’t clean their rooms, so they give me more cooperation at those critical times.
When I feel overwhelmed, I stop and pray. That has at least four good effects: It releases frustration, puts things in perspective, gives God an opportunity to straighten out my mess, and serves as a lesson to my children on crisis management.
My husband and I try to not be too quick to provide our children with solutions to the problems and frustrations that cause them to get negative, but rather to help them define the problem and find their own solutions. Games that teach problem solving are also helpful.
There are upsides to most negative situations. When children are discouraged or become negative over something that has happened, try to steer their thinking toward the positive aspects. Again, if they can reach these conclusions themselves, it’s usually more effective than you providing the answers for them.