In this new year, here three things to do to improve your families emotional health:
1. Get Vulnerable. Be willing to share your mistakes and fears with your children. For example, one day I told a lie. Not a big deal lie, but it made me feel terrible. In the car, I said to my son, “I lied and I feel awful. It’s stressing me out, and I feel very uncomfortable. What should I do?”
My son said, “Mom, you should tell the truth. You’ll feel better.”
I said, “You’re right. But I’m worried because if I tell the person I lied, I’ll feel really stupid. It’s embarrassing.”
He said, “So mom, you still need to tell the truth. You will feel better, even if it doesn’t seem like it.”
I agreed. After I told the person I lied, apologized and told them the truth, I did feel better. So I told my son. He said, “Yep, it always feels better to tell the truth.”
Instead of lecturing my son about why we don’t lie, I let him see me struggle and resolve a situation. It’s not realistic for our kids to get lectures without direct modeling of how to resolve our mistakes. Everyone struggles with something from time to time, let’s be open about it with our children so they know what to do with common and not-so-common human mistakes we all make.
2. Identify your feelings. When you are feeling sad or stressed, tell your children what you are feeling and why. Simply stating the truth: “I’m overwhelmed because I have brownies to bake before the activity tonight, and I don’t know what to make for dinner, and I feel sad because I don’t know when you’re dad will be home from work and I can’t get in touch with him” is much better than yelling, “Stop asking me questions and go play in your room!!” Plus, when you’re honest about what is happening, you give your kids an opportunity to pitch in. They might just reach out and say, “Mom, what about potato chips for dinner? That sounds good.” Which is a perfectly fine option under the circumstances:).
4. Encourage your family and children to connect rather that isolate. Imagine that you are a stranger, and you walk in your house – what do you notice. Are your kids talking to each other and interacting with you and your spouse, or is everyone looking at their mobile device, silent. Make an effort to reduce the amount of isolating in your home by turning off devices, tv’s and other reasons to isolate. You’ll be surprised at how much peace enters into your home when you make connecting a priority.
For more about how to help your child avoid addiction, a free webinar is available at Addo Recovery.