Did you know that teaching your child healthy emotional skills will also make them resilient when it comes to addiction? With pornography, video game and other addictions on the rise, it’s imperative that kids are armed with emotional skills to deal with the pressures of life – rather than turning to numbing their negative emotions with compulsive behaviors.
Compulsive behaviors can sometimes show up at school too. For example, chronic behavior problems are often a result of emotional immaturity.
Do how can we help our kids learn to be emotionally mature, so they can be successful in school and avoid addiction? When it comes to using behaviors or substances to numb negative emotions, many therapists use the acronym B.L.A.S.T. to teach people how to make healthy emotional choices.
I always add an H for Hungry because, let’s face it, when hunger strikes, my son sometimes looses the ability to think rationally.
In order to help kids deal with these emotions in healthy ways, rather than turn to bullying, pornography or video games, here are four tips:
1. Help you child identify their emotions. Children who can identify their emotions activate the pre-frontal cortex of their brain, the part of the brain that can make choices based on principles and long-term consequences.
2. Anticipate negative emotions. Since everyone experiences boredom, sadness, and other negative emotions, make sure your child knows that they will happen and that it’s okay. Develop a plan to deal with those emotions in healthy ways. For example, you’ll probably be tired after you come home from school and you might want to numb out by watching TV, what will actually help you feel better? Maybe a healthy snack and a playing outside with your sister?
3. Teach your kids naturally, without shame or pressure. Teaching your kids healthy emotional habits should be based on two things: your example of dealing with emotions in healthy ways and layered, ongoing conversations with your child that happen naturally.
4. Praise Success. When you witness your child making a healthy choice, say, “Wow! You’re making a healthy choice to deal with your negative emotions. That’s awesome!”
Your child will experience many negative emotions at school. As you talk about negative emotions at home, in a loving, ongoing way, your child will be more likely to express how there are feeling at school. Open dialogue is the best way to help your child when they run into emotionally troubling situations.
For more about how to help your child avoid addiction, a free webinar is available at Addo Recovery.