Five Strategies to Help Become an Emotionally Supportive Parent – Dr. Thornburg

Five Strategies to Help Become an Emotionally Supportive Parent

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Love is a verb. This whimsical anecdote demonstrates why relationships ultimately rest on the way we act towards one another. For a parent-child relationship specifically, it is the really small acts that make a big difference. While emotional support may seem small in scope, it is a powerful game-changer in the family dynamic.

Emotional support comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Under the stress of everything that parents must manage and handle, it is easy for it to get diluted and overlooked in the grand scheme of life. However, if you start applying these five strategies in your relationship with your child today, you'll be well on your way to becoming an emotionally supportive parent.

1. Be Honest.

Telling the truth in love is one of the sharpest tools a parent can have in their toolkit. It’s not only important to be honest with your child, it is the only way for your relationship to thrive. Correcting your child is most effective when your tone of voice is gentle and your words come from your heart, and not your anger.

2. Be Helpful.

When your child appears frazzled or uncertain about something, be quick to offer help frequently. Be prepared to assist your child as they continue to find ways to successfully navigate through different times in their lives. A helping hand will help your child avoid a hard landing and help instill confidence in the strength of your relationship.

3. Be Aware.

Familiarity can breed contempt. After living with someone for a while, you can easily fall into patterns that do not allow you to focus on individual needs and desires. Observing your child enhances your awareness of where they are both physically and emotionally. Every week, make it a point to learn something new about your child, or even, just acknowledge basic improvements or accomplishments.

4. Be Ready to Listen with Intensity.

When you listen, you know. What do they need? What affects them most? Why do they think the way they do? Listening intently to your child--without mentally preparing responses while they’re talking-- shows you’re interested in what’s on their mind. Look them in their face and give them a reason to trust you with what’s on their heart.

5. Be a Team Player.

Declaring your emotional support is paramount to establishing a long, trusting relationship with your child. There will be many opportunities to demonstrate to your child that you are there for them and they are not alone. From the very first time they get rejected on the playground to when they experience their first career mistake, planting your stake in the ground beside theirs confirms your lasting commitment to them. 

Emotional support is not about agreement. As parents, you don’t have to necessarily agree with your child even if you empathize with them. What matters is that you are there to let them know you understand how difficult what they feel may be. By turning these ideas into actions, your relationship with your child can be enriched beyond expectations.

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