When we think of nurturing healthy habits within our homes, we often focus on our physical wellbeing; getting enough exercise, and brushing our teeth twice a day for example. But what about our family’s mental wellbeing? Today we’re sharing tips on how to foster healthy mental and emotional habits—a commitment that contributes to household happiness in a big way.
Listen To Your Body
Whether eating a meal, working out, or contemplating an afternoon nap, it’s important to understand what your body is telling you it needs. When it comes to our kids, the ability to listen to their bodies could mean recognizing they are grumpy due to hunger, or irritable because they’re feeling tired. Not only do these simple insights help kids to regulate their emotions and actions, but they can also save you a lot of drama! Their little bodies are talking to them loud and clear—all you have to do is help them listen.
Tip: Mealtime is a great opportunity to tune-in to our bodies since all kids know what it feels like to get hungry. Talk to them about how their body feels before and after a tasty meal. After eating, ask if they can tell the difference between feeling overstuffed and satisfied.
Speak With Confidence
We all want our children to find their voice—to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with others. They don’t have to deliver a speech to 200 people, but they should learn to hold a solid conversation and express their opinions (goodness knows they have them!) The ability to speak with confidence begins with basic social interactions. Encourage children as young as 12 months old to say “hello” and “goodbye”. As they get older (around seven or eight), you may teach your Littles to shake hands when they meet someone new, while saying a clear “nice to meet you”.
Tip: Ask you children what they think! Whether you’ve just watched the latest Disney movie for the 3rd time, or are talking about the weather with your neighbour, gently prompt your child to add their thoughts on the matter. If they’re feeling shy, don’t force it. Let them know they can take their time and share later if they like.
The holidays have just passed, which means our children most likely got spoiled with lots of lovely gifts from friends and family. This is a great time to talk about kindness and all the different ways that people give to each other—from making a home-cooked dinner, to opening a door for a stranger. The practice of gratitude makes us happier people, and in turn, makes others feel that their acts of kindness haven’t gone unnoticed. Encourage your child to recognize acts of giving throughout their day, and to say “thank you” when they notice one.
Tip: Show your child how to write a special ‘thank you’ card to someone in his or her life. Perhaps it’s the bus driver that gets them safely to and from school, or a friend that welcomed them for dinner. Give your Little their own stack of notecards and some fun stickers and they’ll be all the more eager to show thanks!
Feel Your Feels
Within a mere 24 hours, kids can go from “best day ever!” to “this is THE WORST thing that has ever happened to me!” (Talk about an emotional rollercoaster). However, the problem rarely lies with their emotions, but rather how they learn to express what they are feeling. When your little one is feeling angry or upset, ask them to talk about how they’re feeling in words. Really listen and reaffirm that what they’re saying is real and valid. You may or may not resolve the issue right away, but validating your child’s sentiments can play a big part in helping them take responsibility for how they feel.
Tip: Look for ways to help you child express their emotions. Journaling can be a good practice for pre-teens and teens. Other artistic outlets are useful for channeling feelings that are trickier to verbalize. See if your child would like to play and instrument, learn to dance, or try their hand at painting.
Spend Quality Time Together
After a hectic day or jam-packed weekend, it can be tempting to turn on the television and collectively decompress as a family unit. Although TV time is not strictly a bad habit, it’s good to be aware if this diversion is replacing your family’s quality time together. Are there ways you could encourage family interaction, play, or conversation? If your usual routine is to watch television, or jump on personal devices after dinner, consider playing a board game or a walk around the block instead. Maybe start a weekly family tradition that everyone can look forward to!
Tip: Have a games drawer or basket filled with family favorites in the living room. If your family’s not into board games try something else—play a sport, bake cookies, read aloud—anything that gets you laughing and smiling together!
With a brand New Year only weeks away, now is the perfect time to teach your Littles healthy habits that will yield a happier household for all. Your example and encouragement will leave a lasting impression with your kids that you can feel extra proud of!