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How do you promote emotional health?

May 7, 2015
By Betsy Bethel - Editor , OVParent

Dear Readers,

I recently attended a great parenting workshop called "Beyond Self-Esteem: Building Self-Concept" by a southern Ohioan named Jim Harris, father of 4-year-old and 8-year-old boys. He has worked with kids for years, in schools, in counseling and at one time in a juvenile detention facility, and he is "this close" to getting a doctorate in childhood behavior disorders from Marshall.

In other words, he's younger than I am, and he knows a whole lot more than I do about kids' behavior challenges.

I love learning. I love attending workshops and lectures, reading books about topics that elude and fascinate me, such as parenting. I am the mother of a 9-year-old girl, and sometimes I feel everyone knows more than I do. The reason I love editing this magazine is because I get paid to learn, and then I get to share what I've learned with you, the parents, grandparents, educators and caregivers who make all the difference in our children's worlds.

So I'm going to share a few take-away tidbits from Harris that I hope you, too, will find helpful. The topic is one of my favorites: how to raise emotionally healthy, resilient and stable kids.

1. Just like junk food is bad for your physical health, junk activities are bad for your emotional health. What is your child's intellectual and emotional diet? What they see, hear and take in from their everyday surroundings and activities "can't NOT affect their emotional health."

2. Emotional whole-wheat, so to speak, is one-on-one interaction with an adult who cares: eating together, problem-solving together, helping each other, showing the child he is safe and he matters. For every negative interaction you have with a child, Harris said, it takes five positive interactions to cancel out the adverse effects.

3. To avoid negative interactions, be mindful of the HALT acronym: When you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, "you will make your worst decisions as a parent."

For more of Harris' tips, click on this entry at

May 10 is Mother's Day, and June 21 is Father's Day. Whether you spend time with or away from your kids on that day will not make or break them or you. But think about the other 364 days, and invest in the emotional health of your kids. Here's to healthier, happier days ahead, for all of us.



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