How to build an Emotional Bond with your children


 

IMG_0201 (2592 x 1728)

Another 15 year-old hanged herself today.

Why are India’s youngsters killing themselves? In 2013, the number of young children ending their lives was 2413. According to a recent World Health Organization report, India has the highest suicide rate in the world for the 15-to-29 age group. It stands at 35.5 per 100,000 people for 2012. The problem is exacerbated among urban and developed cities, where the wealthier and more educated live.

Each tragedy comes with its own drama that draws public attention for a short span, and a spate of proposals from the Government and schools. Is counselling children the answer? In my opinion, the challenge lies with the parents.

Sadly, the most important job in the world, Parenting, is perhaps the only position for which it is neither possible nor expected that candidates have “prior experience”. In an urban nuclear family, children are often left to the mercies of school teachers, tuition teachers, and sundry adults who largely take up defining roles in their young lives. These adult role models have to struggle with the sheer density of children that they have to deal with, besides the overwhelming academic curriculum that they have to complete.

Parents must realize that they are the emotional anchors that their children depend on; and learn to deal with them with a raised level of Emotional Intelligence. This will strengthen the bond between them, enable children to be aware of their own emotions; and enhance their ability to share that with their parents. Here are some tips:

  1. Understand and be aware of your own emotions: Emotional self-awareness is one of the pillars of Emotional Intelligence, along with Emotional Self-Expression. Parents who are aware of their own emotions are able to use their sensitivity to tune in and become aware of their children’s emotions.
  2. Work closely with your children to get them aware of Emotions: Parents must use the natural trust that their children share with them to create ‘safe’ environments for children to express their emotions. Once children are aware that its ‘okay’ to experience emotions, and share that with their parents, it creates opportunities for parents to help children learn how to deal with them.
  3. Learn and share the ‘Emotional Vocabulary’: Most people are unaware of the wide range of words available to express and verbalize emotions. Learning this and actively practicing it will help children to classify and state their feelings, without having to use extreme emotional language or behavior.
  4. When interacting with your children, change orientation from ‘self’ to ‘other’: In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), one skill practitioners learn is the ability to change ‘orientation’. Being ‘other oriented’ simply means tuning out all internal ‘self-talk’; and focusing attention on the other person. Reframing and rephrasing are other skills that help keep the ‘other orientation’ on track. This is the art of ‘Active Empathetic Listening’. Parents must use this skill to build rapport with their children.
  5. Don’t coach when emotions are high: When your child is upset, use that as an opportunity to get closer rather than as an opportunity to teach or coach. Like all of us, children also need to be supported unconditionally through their emotional highs. Coaching and teaching can wait till the surge subsides.

Raising children to be aware of their Emotions, and coaching them to verbalize them goes a long way in improving parent-child relationships. In times of high emotional stress, children will learn to share issues with their parents, thus mitigating the build-up of negative emotions and the associated risks.

Sunder Sharma is a Facilitative Corporate Trainer, and works extensively in the area of Emotional Intelligence. He is a Certified Practitioner of the EQ-i v2.0 and the EQ-i 360; and has completed another program in Emotional Intelligence from IIM Lucknow.