Parenting Expert Kari Sutton: Raising Emotionally Resilient Children
Kari Sutton is an established author and educator giving parents practical tools and strategies to foster positive, emotional well-being in their children.
In a world where mental health issues are reaching rampant levels, parenting expert Kari Sutton believes our children need more help than ever before to sustain emotional resilience.
“We’re seeing a rise of anxiety and mental health issues in our younger generation,” Kari explains – adding that the ramifications if this continues to increase, will be detrimental on society.
“There’s an epidemic out there that’s taking our kids, and as parents we need to do something different.”
Young children and those moving through adolescence have not yet figured out that, yes, the world can be hard but there is always a way through.
“Children are sponges, and they will pick up easily on what’s going on within their own households and within society through the use of social media,” Kari says.
To better equip your child for the challenges of growing up in this day and age, the educator has four key strategies parents can employ.
TEACH HEALTHY SOCIAL MEDIA HABITS
A lot of parents with teenagers right now experienced their own youth through a very different lens – one without social media. For us, the daily news cycle may have only reached us through the radio on the drive to school or on the six o’clock news.
In the current digital age, all of us – if we choose – can be connected 24/7, 365 days a year.
Our children are living through a time where it’s perfectly normal, if not expected, to put themselves out there on platforms to be viewed and judged by strangers, creating an endless loop of feedback.
“As adults, we develop certain filters that help to block out people online that don’t mean anything to us because the comments they make aren’t valid,” Kari says.
“Whereas teenagers, and children particularly, still can’t weed that out.”
Teaching children intentional habits to take care of their psychological well-being starts with managing our own. We need to monitor our own consumption of media because the constant, minute-to-minute cycle can even spin us into a downward spiral.
Kari suggests finding one source of information, find out what you need to know for the day, and then switch off. Creating those habits for ourselves will help to put in place limits and rules for our own kids.
“We have to be so incredibly careful around what we surround our children’s brains with and what we surrender to,” she says.
“You wouldn’t let somebody come in and spew negativity all over you, yet that’s what’s often happening with our kids frequently on social media.”
Don’t be afraid to be the big, bad parent who gives your child a reason to not be on their device all day long. Taking the blame off them and instead putting it on yourself will serve them better in the long run.
One of the core ideas that the author also teaches parents is how to develop more optimistic thinking. Optimism and pessimism sit on a scale – you’re not automatically one or the other.
Developing a realistic approach to optimism takes practice, but it is a way of thinking that we need to adopt so that our children understand its importance.
“If we are spending more of our time in pessimistic thought that’s where our children are going to be,” Kari says, “but if we spend more of our time fostering an optimistic or realistic outlook, our kids will feel that.”
There are a number of different strategies that can help to develop optimism. Acknowledging that there are hard times to our children, but teaching them to keep looking towards a better future, is one way we can flip pessimism on its head.
Kari also suggests discussing our own emotions with children to help them to gain a deeper understanding of their own well-being.
“Say I was interviewing for a job and I didn’t get it. It might look like I’m angry or I’m really disappointed and children will notice the difference in energy, outlook and attitude,” Kari says.
“They will carry these emotions because they assume responsibility for them when it actually has nothing to do with them at all.”
Being open with how we’re feeling and what we’re doing helps our children to not misinterpret our actions without explanation. In doing so, you’re outwardly showing how you personally work through the tougher times, inevitably passing on those skills to them.
MAKE LISTENING INTENTIONAL
It can be difficult to set aside the time to listen to your children’s problems, especially when they’re younger and it feels like these are little or small issues. To our children though, those are big things they’re facing at that point in time.
Having open communication lines is incredibly important to let your kids know they’re being heard. Intentionally giving them time though is even more crucial to their development.
“One of my colleagues told me that for his kids he used to make them a cup of tea and purposely show them that he was putting his phone on airplane mode when they sat down to talk,” Kari says.
Being present, listening and having time for your children, means that even when they are going through stages of pushing you away, deep down they will always know you’re there.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to be available every waking second. It’s more than okay to set boundaries even with your kids – in fact it’s encouraged. Yet Kari suggests doing so in a way that still gives them time.
“If they’ve come to talk to you, look them in the eyes and ask them if they can wait just two minutes so that you can finish off whatever you’re doing and give them your full and undivided attention.”
LET THEM FAIL
The concept of failing really is just a first attempt at learning. As adults, we have the perspective to understand this, but for our children who are experiencing these things for the first time it can be a huge upset.
These issues are further heightened when we as parents coddle, and don’t allow children to sit in this discomfort.
“Let kids fail. Allow them to be comfortable with not always being the winner,” Kari says.
“That’s what happens in life – so absolutely congratulate them for participating but let them know not everybody is going to get the ribbon.”
If you want certain results you have to put in the work, and that’s something children need to learn from a young age. Remind them that just because they feel like they failed once doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying again.
REMEMBER, WE’RE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN
Most parents would agree that we’re all just trying to do the best that we can. Of course, we’re not going to get it right all the time, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying to learn.
“We are never going to be able to protect our children from life, but we can teach them the skills to sit with discomfort or disappointment, so it doesn’t take such a toll on them mentally.”
If we can start using these tools to foster positive mental health in our kids from a very young age, we can prepare them better for life and everything they’re yet to experience in adulthood.
We can only hope that in doing so, future generations don’t face the same kind of losses we have to the mental health epidemic.
By Jason Whitton
Group CEO Positive Real Estate
As adults we’re not immune to some of these emotions our kids face – like the feeling of failure. If you feel as though your real estate journey is lagging, we’d love for you to join us at one of our free property investing seminars. Our expert team knows the top strategies that will get you back on track and making solid, smart decisions.