Raising Emotionally Fit Children
My son played in his first championship basketball game for the local recreational team this past week. This was his first time playing basketball and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive coaching and the cohesiveness of his team. Throughout the entire season, the coaches took the time to know their players personally, understand their strengths and weaknesses and impress upon them the importance of teamwork. In addition, they held them accountable for their actions and choices on and off the court. Though time was allocated for extra practices (which were scheduled every week), I never once heard or saw my son, or his team members complain; on the contrary, they requested more time for practice as a team.
Whenever they played against teams that put their skills on the court to the test, their interdependence bolstered their bond as a unit. Some team members were not as talented as others, but when the time came for those members to play, they were nevertheless encouraged with positivity and respect. The coaches must be commended for developing a genuine connection among the team’s members. My son’s team may have finished second place overall for the season, but as far as they were concerned, their hearts and love of basketball made them the true winners.
Time and again, parents tend to focus on their children being the smartest, fastest, most popular, most talented, and even prettiest… but how much attention do we as parents pay to our children’s mental fitness? I cannot stress enough how influential my son’s basketball coaches were for the season; they not only instilled a strong work ethic in the team’s members, but more notably, they taught them the importance of self – awareness and the awareness of each other.
When children learn how to be emotionally fit by being compassionate, empathetic, kind, forgiving, understanding, authentic, honest about their own faults, and willing to learn the principles of self – correction and self – love, they more easily achieve success in every other aspect of their lives. We need our children to recognize that being popular is not based on how many ‘likes’ they obtain on social media. Too many children and adults nowadays ground their self – worth on what friends and strangers think of them. When we recognize and demonstrate that happiness comes from loving who you are, and that there is power to be derived from who you are as an individual, harmony and prosperity will follow.
Our children handle more emotional and psychological pain than we realize or may want to admit. Either way, we must provide them with the tools best suited for enabling them to work through that pain. We as parents need to learn to listen to (and not simply hear) our children’s wants and needs. We must always validate their emotions, no matter what they are. Too often we attempt to dictate to our children how and what they should feel. This leads to resentment and failures in communication between the parent and the child. Even though we may not always agree with what our children say or believe, we as parents need to listen to them, understand them, and facilitate open and candid discussions about their feelings.
Emotional Intelligence is a culmination of all that is good for our bodies, minds and spirits. If our children enter the ‘real world’ without the skill sets required to ensure their emotional fitness, they are bound to live and lead more challenging lives. That is not to say that they will always have the right answers; but they will learn to conquer their hardships more quickly and healthily. Our society places such a strong emphasis on how we should dress, live, and act. It will ultimately benefit our children more in the long – term if we raise them to be respectful, compassionate, innovative, adaptable and self – reliant. After all, true power comes from within.
Excelling in sports and academics, and even being popular, all come with their own benefits. What good is being the best athlete, however, when you aren’t on cordial terms with you coach or teammates? How far will being the brightest student or receiving the highest test scores get you in life when you are unable to effectively communicate and collaborate with your peers? If you are popular, are you using that popularity to bring good to the world, or are you simply using it to feed your ego?
I choose to believe that there is an abundance of love in the world, and when we focus on teaching our children to love and be loved, that love expands tenfold.
How are you living your life? Always remember: our children are watching and learning from us, every single day.
With that in mind, take the initiative today. BE the change that you seek!