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You Are Not Your Child’s Happiness: Building Emotional Strength In Our School Age Children Part 2

Philippians 4:13

Yesterday, I posted about how we can encourage emotional strength in our children.

Here are a few more ways to help your child be strong in their minds!

Feed Your Child’s Mind Well

There is a science connecting  screens and mental health.  Just Google search childhood anxiety and screen time. There are countless articles about the negative effects of the dopamine fix that a screen is giving our brains and the addiction we build.

When I saw my child melting down daily before bedtime, I knew it was because I had checked out as a mom and let her spend the precious hours between school and bedtime on a screen. She literally became addicted to the dopamine jolt she received from staring at Ninjago and Sophia the First.

emotionally strong children

Photo by Drew Rae

I engaged and she became less enraged.  I also made a rule that she can only have screen time Friday after school through Sunday afternoon. Even during that time period the screen exposure is limited in length and type of shows she is allowed to watch.

Books, art, toys, and outside time are her choices after school and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I don’t care what Jimmy’s mom lets him do.

Feed Your Child’s Body Well

Again, Google search anxiety and food or gut health and mental health and see what the research says. You will see what happens in the brain and body with too much crappy food.

When I say to someone, “My child won’t eat that,” it is entirely my fault. It is probably your fault too. (with the exception of diagnosed sensory and spectrum disorders)

emotionally strong children

When my Sweet V knows there is an alternative in the pantry that I will allow as an alternative to what I just put on her plate, she will protest. If she knows I will make her the alternative PB&J to the baked chicken and roasted broccoli, she will protest. And each time I cave, I am strengthening a neurological connection that builds a bad food habit for her.

Children need protein.
Children need vegetables.
Children need healthy fats.
Children need water.

These are the things that keep blood sugars balanced and mood stable so that they don’t have emotional crashes and physical meltdowns during the day.

They do not need sugar and crackers and pudding and pantry items.  These are the blood sugar crashers.

So food is happiness.  It’s just not the dessert and pizza happiness we are used to thinking about.

Teach Your Child to be Mindful in the Moment

Steven Furtick said in one of his messages that when our joy is low, our entitlement is usually high. This is true for all humans. We can help our kiddos grow into healthy contented adults if we help them be present and thankful in this moment.

Distraction and discontentment is usually rooted in the idea that we are entitled to something more than this moment can offer me.

In my classroom, I ask students what moment we are in to help them engage and be present for the lesson. They respond by saying, “This moment is for listening to a story,” or whatever the case may be.

This same concept works at home for kids and adults. Adults can mentally remind themselves that this moment is for dinner making, laundry, bathing kids, whatever. And then choose joy for that moment.

We can teach our sons and daughters to be in the moment. It helps them focus their ever racing brains on the task at hand and lowers anxiety levels (hyperactivity or sadness) to help connect them to the world around them in that moment.

This moment is for eating. Please stop walking around the room and put your tummy to the table to finish your food.
This moment is for brushing our teeth. We can talk about the book you want for bedtime when you are finished.
This moment is for grocery shopping. We can look at toys another day.
This moment is for enjoying quiet music as a family and reading.  Please put your phone away. You can use it later.
This moment is for us to complete our chores. Once we get this done, we can all enjoy the rest of the weekend.
Look at the trees changing color/sunset/sunrise! Isn’t this moment beautiful?
Wow! I am so thankful that I get to play a board game with your right now.
Hey! Did you know I love snuggling you and being your mom.

These are all great ways to start that thankful and mindful language that changes our thought processes to be present in the moment we are given.

I am finally starting to see this with V. Just yesterday, we were walking in a tiny shop and she was pointing out all of the merchandise and saying how beautiful it was and naming people who would like it. And she didn’t whine to leave or ask for a single thing. Mommy win for me!

Think of Others Often

If we teach our children to remember the people who have less than we do that can automatically encourage an attitude of gratitude.

If we model for our children a life that shows us as adults giving our time, talents, and treasures to others and include our children in that, it will encourage an attitude of gratitude.

emotionally strong children

Photo by Nischal Masand on Unsplash

If the words we speak are grateful and uplifting to them and to others, our children will learn an attitude of gratitude.

If, as parents, we practice finding joy in serving our families well in our careers and domestic life, our children will learn to find contentment in serving others and doing hard things too.

Serving others fills that small hole in our hearts where we think stuff, food, and experiences will be the answer. Truly connecting to the love of God by loving others is the only thing that really fills the space.

Emotional strength is a brain muscle that needs to be worked just as much as our other muscles. We can do hard things!

Being happy is good. Being emotionally strong is great.

Keep working to make your house a love filled home.

High five for home!

Philippians 4:13 emotionally strong children


About Kendra

Kendra is a full time elementary teacher and mommy to a sweet and sassy 7 year old. She poured her heart and soul into her classroom and earning her graduate degree before becoming a mom and has spent motherhood trying to find a way to balance career and home and appreciate the journey while doing it. She’s a lake loving, ranch on pizza, pop can recycling, map on her hand Michigan girl! This momma never learned how to play euchre, but you can find her making a pretty long list, reading a book, or planning her next adventure in America’s high five! High five for home!

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