Article Written by Jennifer Welton, MA, MS, LPCC
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant
The month of November brings us Thanksgiving and for most people we are reminded to think about what we’re grateful for, and no, this is not another blog telling you about the importance of expressing gratitude. Although research tells us gratitude does improve attitude. Instead, lets focus on how thankful our children will be when we work on breaking negative habits. You know the ones that are hardest to break because it was how your parents/caregivers raised you, and now they’re deeply rooted in your verbal and nonverbal interactions with children. Here are 3 habits that we can work on changing today, although recognizing that change takes time. We need to give ourselves a break when we slip up. We’re all simply doing the best we can.
- Love yourself – Yes, you read that right. Your children love you and look up to you for answers to life’s biggest questions (why is the grass green or sky blue?). If you aren’t modeling self-esteem and reframing your negative self-statements then your children may develop a negative sense of self as well.
- Rolling your eyes and heavy sighs- Children notice the nonverbals too. These two habits are conveying, “I’m tired of you” or “Again… really?” When we practice patience and remain calm, we help reinforce healthy social, emotional and behavioral development in children.
- Sending them to their room or the “cozy” corner- This is just another form of a “time-out.” A time-out or simply time away from you (primary caregiver) is not teaching them to connect with their feelings. It leaves the child feeling isolated, humiliated and ignored. They need you to teach them healthy ways to cope with their big emotions.
It isn’t easy to break habits once they’re rooted. Your child is just a little sprout and with healthy coping tools they can grow-up to be socially and emotionally ready to take on life. So, when conflict arises, and it will, connect instead of avoiding or sending it away because it’s too hard. This new habit will teach your child to solve problems through collaboration and build their friendship-making skills. If you, parent or caregiver, need help breaking out of old habits and start focusing on becoming a more emotionally competent contact Mountainland Pediatrics partner Community Reach Center Early Childhood Services for more information.
If you or someone you know is currently in a mental health crisis, call 1-844-493-8255 to talk to a licensed therapist or visit the Behavioral Health Urgent Care at Community Reach Center, located at 2551 W. 84th Ave in Westminster.