Below is a review of How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children from Mommy’s Memorandum.
When we rolled out of the hospital with our first born, the nurse left us on the curb with our baby… that’s it. I asked my husband, “What do we do now?!” Babies don’t come with instruction manuals, and sometimes as a parent, I let life get in between my precious children and me. How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is a gentle reminder of behaviors that will support a child’s five critical emotional needs. I need a reminder to think of my vocation as Mom as a profession! I often remind myself that as a classroom teacher, I was sometimes more patient, respectful, and loving of a stranger’s child than I am to my own. It makes me sad, but I know that my realization of this makes me a better mom. I love my kids (who doesn’t?) and I want them to grow into really awesome adults and citizens of our great country. How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children is a book that helped me and will hopefully help you or a parent or a teacher that you know to get to know children for whom they are and for whom they will become as an individual!
Each chapter provides examples of behaviors that will support (and not support) those emotional needs.
The first need is that a child needs to be respected. For a child to fee respected, he needs to be treated in a courteous, thoughtful, attentive and civil manner. Children are, after all, individuals that deserve the same courtesy and consideration that we give to others
A child needs to feel important. She needs to know she has value and that she is useful. As parents we need to give our children power and teach them that they are SOMEBODY.
Children need to feel accepted as individuals in their own right, in their own uniqueness. This means that children have a right to their own feelings, opinions, ideas, concerns, wants and needs.
The fourth critical emotional need is that a child needs to feel included. Children need to feel they belong, to feel a part of things, to feel connected to other people, and to have a sense of community.
Lastly, children need to feel secure. Security means creating a positive environment where people care about one another and show it. There needs to be enough structure to exist for children to feel safe and protected and where they have opportunities to actively participate in their own evolution and that of the family. Dr. Newmark poses a scenario of the parents always bickering; how does this make a child feel? In order to provide security, Dr. Newmark suggests creating traditions and rituals that the child can grow to depend on.
Dr. Newmark gives so many situations to help exemplify a positive, respectful environment and hurtful behaviors that smash children’s feelings. For instance, a woman relays that when she was a teen, her parents treated her room as if it were her home. They knocked before entering, allowed her to decorate as she pleased, and never criticized the room’s appearance. Dr. Newmark is realistic enough to know that this is not the norm, but he is gentle in his approach to helping (us) parents know how to fix the problem. He tackles situation after situation that many of us have encountered on a daily basis and teaches us the best way to handle it and how the poor behavior will impact the child.
Parenting is probably the most important and most difficult responsibility any one of us might have in a lifetime. Ironically, it’s rare that parents set aside time to question how well they are doing. In our careers, we make conscious decisions, we have a game plan, we become a student of our own behavior, and we have an experimental attitude. As parents, we should adopt this same level of professionalism to our role at home. Changing habits or adopting new habits is not easy. How to Raise Emotionally Healthy Children actually gives parents a game plan to help them make the transition from concept to action!
This book is more like a workbook that will guide parents to reflect on their parenting skills and what they believe about parenting and help them to become STRONGER parents. Dr. Newmark has even written a chapter that goes through those rough obstacles that we all encounter. I know that as a parent, my skills crash to the ground as soon as I feel that I have over-extended myself. This happens quite a bit as a home schooling mom to four lovely darlings. I have to step back, reflect, and prioritize what is happening in my life at that moment. What a simple task with monumental rewards!
The thing to remember is that families need to create a sense of community, and to be involved with one another: DO THINGS TOGETHER! Preparation for meeting a child’s emotional needs should begin in pregnancy and continue once the child is born, but it’s never too late to start adopting the five critical needs and making positive changes in your family.
Next to family, schools have the greatest influence in meeting the five critical needs of children. The Children’s Project is a grassroots, non-commercial effort, by Dr. Gerald Newmark and Deborah Newmark designed to help schools meet the five critical needs of children. As children experience what it is like to feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure and these needs become a home and school value, the kids are more likely to become self-confident, independent, thinking, caring, civic-minded individuals.