3 Ways to Nurture Your Child’s Emotional Growth By learning the tools of self-awareness, your child will have the opportunity to grow. BY EIMAN AL ZAABI
Being thoughtful as a parent will help your child be thoughtful as they mature.
“ One childhood event can send ripples far into the future, even into the next generation.”
Chaos theory tells us that a force as tiny as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately affect the weather hundreds of miles away. In a dynamic system such as the Earth’s weather, minor differences in initial conditions can create unpredictable, far-reaching long-term results.
A child’s emotional life is just as complex as the Earth’s atmosphere. One childhood event can send ripples far into the future, even into the next generation. You may think you are simply telling your young daughter she must get her hair cut even though she would prefer to keep it the way it is. However, she may conclude that she does not have the right to control her own body and its appearance, and this may affect her decisions as a young woman.
For parents, the awareness that small events can have large consequences comes with a huge sense of responsibility. We want to protect our children from damaging experiences, and we certainly do not want to make a careless comment or other parenting misstep that has lasting effects.
But take heart. Chaos is not random. It is a productive, dynamic force that drives change and growth. In life, each one of us is exposed to different inputs that shape us. These experiences—both positive and negative—provide opportunities for us to evolve to our fullest potential. They are part of the Divine’s plan for us.
Each one of us plays a role in other people’s lives. As parents, we generate input for the psyches of our children. Our children, meanwhile, are generating input for our own psyches. We shape each other’s evolution as we grow to fulfill our potential. Chaos is the norm and the apparent unpredictability of life is in fact Divine order that we cannot always see.
We have a profound responsibility for the effect our input has on our children. How can you make your influence as positive as possible? Here are three ways to nurture your child’s emotional and spiritual growth.
1. Practice emotional intelligence. In conversation with your children, be aware of body language or facial expressions that signal dissatisfaction, anger, or sadness. Such cues will help you respond wisely before the child makes conclusions about you and the situation.
2. Be aware of your impact. Cultivating awareness of your own emotional state will enable you to realize the impact you could have on your child. You’ll be able to contain situations in which you might be angry, agitated, or stressed, and turn those around with words of assurance and acts of love.
3. Take purposeful action. Show your children love and security. When you do this, the impact goes beyond the individual and moves into the community and finally into the world. You don't have to be perfect. Your children need practice interacting with people who aren't perfect! Your good intention is what matters most.
Remember that you cannot fully protect your children from negative emotions. No matter what you do, your children could still witness an accident, see something disturbing on the news or be bullied. These are natural occurrences outside your control. They are necessary for your child's growth and emotional resilience. Don’t exhaust yourself trying to ensure that they don't happen.
The key lies in passing on the tools of self-awareness. Teach your children to name and acknowledge their emotions. Help them process and channel their feelings productively, and show them that it’s okay to release their burdens after a while.
When we become aware of our inputs into the lives of our children, we evolve beyond everyday roles and move into conscious parenting. With this awareness, you can’t help but be a good parent. You create an emotional and spiritual nest in which your children grow, learn, and then fly as they develop to fulfill the true purpose of their creation.