10 things mentally strong parents do with their children
- Parents should proactively practice mentally strong habits to help their children build mental strength. And this doesn't have to be complicated - just spending quality time together, particularly doing things like yoga or talking through feelings, can have a real impact.
- Parents should prioritise taking care of themselves - it models the importance of self-care. They also should know the value of play and fun.
- They should help kids problem solve and work through tough feelings, but not swoop in and fix things.
- For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.
It's no coincidence that mentally strong parents raise mentally strong children. And while I spend a lot of time talking about avoiding the unhealthy habits that rob kids of mental strength, it's also important for parents to proactively help kids build their mental muscles.
Mentally strong parents teach, practice, engage, and model mental strength so that their kids can learn the skills they need to become mentally strong adults.
Here are 10 things mentally strong parents do with their children:
1. They spend quality time together
Whether they are working on a science experiment or shopping together, mentally strong parents work on strengthening their bonds with their kids. They know that the parent-child relationship will affect a child's future relationships, social interactions, and self-worth.
2. They talk about feelings
Mentally strong parents don't burden their kids with their own emotional turmoil, but they are willing to use feeling words in their everyday conversations. They normalise feelings of sadness, frustration, fear, and anger, and encourage kids to share how they're feeling.
3. They practice coping skills
Mentally strong parents don't just tell kids to "calm down" or "stop crying" without giving them healthy coping skills. They teach them strategies that help them manage their feelings in a healthy way. Then, they offer gentle reminders like, "Take a few deep breaths" or, "Take a break for a minute" to guide kids when they need a little assistance.
4. They engage in mental strength exercises
They don't just tell their kids to "toughen up." Instead, they work on mental strength exercises together so that the whole family can think, feel, and behave their best. Whether they regularly engage in gratitude exercises or practice yoga together, mental muscle building is a family activity.
5. They establish goals
Goal setting is a valuable skill, and mentally strong parents know that kids can learn from each goal they set. Mistakes, failure, and success all provide valuable life lessons. So whether they're establishing a personal fitness goal or creating an academic goal each month, they help their kids challenge themselves.
6. They take care of themselves
Building mental strength isn't about inflicting pain and suffering - it involves self-care. So mentally strong parents make it a priority to take care of their bodies and their minds. They model the importance of a good diet and plenty of sleep, and they invite their kids to exercise and engage in healthy social activities.
7. They process tough events
Whether they've endured the death of a pet or their child got cut from the team, mentally strong parents process tough events with their kids. They validate their kids' feelings and talk about how to cope with life's inevitable hardships.
8. They review rules
They don't expect their kids to automatically understand that there are different expectations for their behaviour at the playground compared to the library. So they review the rules - and explain the reasons for those rules - ahead of time. This helps kids understand what's expected from them and gives them a chance to practice their skills.
9. They problem solve
While it can be tempting to swoop in and fix problems, mentally strong parents resist that urge. Instead, they problem solve alongside their kids. They invite kids to share how they might solve their own problems - and they brainstorm solutions together.
10. They play and have fun
Mentally strong parents aren't all work without any fun. They recognise the importance of play - for kids and adults. Whether they're playing ball in the yard or building a castle out of blocks, they unwind and enjoy life's little moments together.
Make mental strength training an ongoing activity
Kids aren't born mentally strong - but they can learn and practice exercises that will build mental strength. So make mental strength training an ongoing priority in your family.
Over time, you'll help your kids develop the mindset they need to reach their greatest potential. And you'll also sharpen your own skills along the way.
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