What challenging, uncertain times we are living!
On the global scale we have a pandemic, protests for social justice, and an economic downturn. On the home front we need to isolate for an indefinite time period, with school children at home and many households full to bursting and others far too lonely, and recurrent anxiety about employment and financial security.
How can we not only survive but thrive in these unprecedented and unpredictable times? Can we take advantage of the opportunities while reducing the losses?
This column reflects our Taos Behavioral Health values and offers parenting tips to increase the wellbeing of children, parents and families, by nurturing emotional strengths and social skills. These are times of high emotions, but we may now, more than usual, have the time to reflect, consider and learn.
Tip # 1 Think about what kind of adult you hope your child will become. Kind? Capable? Responsible? Compassionate? Creative? Courageous? Curious? Competitive? A critical thinker? Engaged? Collaborative? Happy? Productive? Hopeful?
Next, act to support these traits.
Tip # 2 Be deliberate in your parenting actions to reinforce the qualities you desire in your children.
Keep your eye on the goal!
Evaluate your progress!
Find a friend/partner– someone who understands your goals and is available to observe your behaviors and remind you of your choices.
For example, if you want your children to be problem solvers, to be able to think critically and to be empathetic and responsible, start including your children now in family decision making.
Think about how you make decisions in your family. The adults decide everything? The older members have more power than the younger ones? How do the younger ones learn skills to make decisions? Is that what you want? Think about organizing a family planning session or meeting. Start with deciding on some rules for how you will work together.
The following four questions adapted from the Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence, have been widely adopted by some organizations and schools in our community.
Ask, “How does everyone want to feel in our household?” Typical answers might include; valued, included, respected, considered.
Discuss “What do we all need to do in order to have these feelings consistently in our household?”. Actions might include; Ask questions, listen to one another with full attention, look at the person talking, turn off devices when talking, stay curious, assume good intentions.
Talk about “What will we do when we have disagreements so that no one feels the need to withdraw?” Responses might include. “Talk directly to the person with whom you have a problem, call a family discussion session, agree to disagree while stating continued love, care and commitment.
Promise what you will all do in order to support optimal development for everyone. Forgive, try again, commit, reassure, think about others, etc.
These guidelines can help build trustworthy, honest and respectful relationships in your household. When a conflict arises, large or small, you can depend on respectful relationships through which you can engage constructively and find solutions that are compassionate and supported by everyone.
In these challenging times, TBH is here for you and your family. Many services are done via Zoom or phone, but face to face in some situations is also possible. For referrals call 575-758-4297 or look on the web site at www.taosbehavioralhealth.org, We need to walk this journey together.
TBH has the largest credentialed and licensed behavioral health professionals in northern New Mexico. Reach us at 105 Bertha is Taos or on line at www.taosbehavioralhealth.org or 575-758-4297.
Dr. Amy McConnell Franklin is a mental health counselor and educator in Emotional Intelligence. She is a member of the TBH Board.