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As part of our ongoing efforts to support the health and well-being of our haumāna, the Kamehameha Schools Mālama Ola Division presents the Mālama Ola Minute series. This month, we focus on emotional well-being.

Mālama Ola Minute: Tips to improve emotional well-being

July 1, 2024

In this summer’s blockbuster hit “Inside Out 2,” audiences reconnect with protagonist Riley, who is now a teenager navigating puberty. Her core emotions, headquartered in her mind, struggle when new emotions shake up Riley’s understanding of who she is and what she believes.

The emotional well-being of your keiki is vital as it helps them manage their thoughts and develop a powerful sense of meaning and purpose. Research shows that improving their emotional well-being benefits not only their mental and physical health but also strengthens their social connections within your ‘ohana and the greater community.

Here are some tips to boost emotional well-being:

  • Focus on communication
    Talking to your child about their feelings can be challenging, especially when they are still developing the language to express what’s happening inside. Remember, communication is both verbal and nonverbal and listening is just as important as speaking.

    Use colors, animals or emojis to help your child visually express their feelings. Instead of asking broad questions like how their day went, ask them what made them happy, laugh or confused. This approach provides deeper insight into their experiences and how they process emotions, humor and needs.
  • Manage negative emotions
    Negative emotions are a part of life but teaching your keiki regulation skills and how to manage themselves during tough situations builds resiliency and self-esteem. 

    Validation is a powerful tool in calming kids down. The next time they are having a middle-of-the-store meltdown, acknowledge their feelings and practice active listening. Coach them through slow-down strategies such as deep breathing, counting to ten or taking a quiet moment to regroup. Encourage them to reflect on what upset them and discuss what would help them deal with similar changes in the future.
  • Model behavior
    As your keiki’s most constant teacher, children learn by observing their parents and caregivers. Demonstrating your stress management techniques like taking walks or relaxing into self-care rituals can provide positive examples for them.

    During movies, call out the character’s feelings and ask your child how they would feel in the same situation. Reflect their feelings and reframe your questions to make it a learning experience with positive outcomes. Don’t worry about getting it wrong or taking it personally when your child expresses something uncomfortable; positive emotional well-being is a continuous journey, not a one-time accomplishment.

Remember, fostering healthy emotional development in your child is an ongoing process that requires patience and empathy. By practicing active listening, teaching them self-regulation skills and modeling positive behavior, you are setting them up for a lifetime of emotional well-being. Embrace the journey and continue to nurture their emotional growth every step of the way!

For more information:
Tips to Improve Your Emotional Well-Being
Helping Kids Handle Big Emotions at Different Ages
How Families Can Support Student Health and Emotional Well-being

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