There are so many adults who need some help with their mood elevators. If they seem to stay stuck on the negative floors, there could be reasons why. As parents and grandparents we certainly don't want to have our children grow up this way and there are some proven things to do to help them. In the process, it may turn out to also give you something to think about.
As adults, sometimes we go on the autopilot mode instead of making choices to be happier and healthier. As potential role models to our children we can help them realize their potential to make wise choices.
- Watch how much screen time you allow them, as well as yourself. If they witness you staring at your cell phone or tablet constantly, then they will mimic the same behavior. They will feel that maybe they are not so important if you can't put it down to listen to them or watch them. It is imperative that they are computer literate in today's times but it needs to be a limit so that they can learn to focus and live in the real world too. Face to face communication skills are important. Then again, remember that schools have state testing that is completed all on the computer so our children must know the basic skills of scrolling and finding icons and typing. Find the happy balance for both of you.
While we are on the subject, dinner time should be a no cell phone time. Nothing is more disruptive to watch than a family out to eat and everyone is looking and texting or playing a game on their cell phone. If a meal is taking an extra long time, then perhaps a younger child could be entertained with one for the sake of them not growing too impatient. Older children should be able to sit and talk with those at the table. Practice this at home because the more that a family sits down and eats together with no TV or media, the easier this becomes.
It also is a way to help instill making healthy food choices at the dinner table, as well as shopping some together to plan menus that include food that is good for everyone.
By showing your child that you are interested in their day while they have been away from you, ask specific questions to start conversations. The age old question of, "What did you do in school today?" will usually get the same response over and over. "Oh, nothing!" Try asking things like, "Who smiled the most in school today? Who did you sit by at lunchtime? What was the best thing that you did today in math? Who was the most helpful?" Ask specific questions and it opens up for more communication about some things that did happen at school. Perhaps they went on a field trip that you could not chaperon. If you do chaperon, you will quickly see which children have been exposed to little family field trips and which ones have not. There are exhibits and museums that you and your child can go out to explore together, not only to learn and experience new things, but appropriate behavior to use.
Outside time is important. If you are lucky enough to have a backyard where they can play, it helps. It also helps if there are neighborhood children who can come over to play. Once they are old enough, then a play date after school or on the weekend may work. If not, then trips to a local park might need to go on your to-do list.
Allow your child to find some hobby or sport to try out. If they show an interest in T-ball or soccer then give it a try. I highly suggest to not do more than one at a time. There is such a thing as overload. Stress that the rule is if they want to try it, then they finish the one season and can decide to not sign up for the next one. They can choose another sport or activity. Everyone deserves to find their niche.
Whether it is to play a sport, learn how to play an instrument or choosing what to wear (within reason) it helps them in making harder decisions in life as they grow older.
Your child will do to others what he/she sees you do. If you show respect and use the please and thank yous that you expect them to use, they will follow your example. We all deserve to be treated with respect, no matter what our age.
If you get the chance to read Mood Elevators by Larry Senn, I highly suggest it. Even doing some googling may help you to delve into the process and understanding that our thoughts affect our moods. Think negative then you are setting yourself up to have negative vibes bouncing off of you.
Turn it around by thinking more positive thoughts. Everything can't be happy, happy, happy all the time. You are in charge of how you respond to what is going on around you. When there are times that I forget this (and we all do now and then) my sweet and thoughtful husband will simply ask me quietly, "Are you going to let that one negative incident ruin your whole day?" That is all I have to hear. No nagging or preaching. Just that simple reminder to breathe in and breathe out and let it go. Hopeful and optimistic thoughts create hopeful and optimistic feelings. Our choice!