What It Really Takes to Raise Emotionally Healthy Kids

What was your childhood like?
Do you remember feeling loved and happy?
Or was it a time filled with fear and loneliness?

Maybe it was a combination of both. What I struggled with most growing up was not knowing how to deal with feelings of unworthiness and being ostracized. I did not trust anyone enough to share those feelings.

The most devastating experience for me as a child was being rejected - whether by peers or parents.

How do we ensure that our children have the skills to master their emotions and take charge of their lives?

My child's future well-being is undoubtedly something I keep in the forefront of my mind. I don't necessarily think that I am responsible for her happiness. 

However, I do believe I influence how she learns to handle her emotions and how she uses them to articulate her feelings. 

And, in that respect, my interactions with her significantly affect her emotional health which impacts her overall well-being.

You probably have similar goals for your children. You hope they grow up to be - 

  • emotionally stable
  • independent
  • compassionate
  • successful
  • happy 

- but what is it that can make or break our children's emotional well-being and threaten their future happiness?

I recently witnessed a mom abruptly dismiss her young son's "But I'm hurt" with an "I don't care" followed by what was essentially a demand to "change or else."

This mom most likely loves and cares for her son, and I realize it was the end of a long day that probably prompted such a strong reaction, but at that moment, my mind couldn't help but flash to his future  --

 -- a wounded sixteen-year-old using ego to feel important or noticed among his peers or perhaps he has trouble having stable relationships or recognizing his value --

It is also possible that mom's intense reaction was provoked by her own unconscious fears - flashing to a future where her son was no more mature than he was now.

Now, this one single event cannot predict how this child's development will unfold or what his future will look like. But for so many kids, this kind of interaction is a daily occurrence


Maybe you're not the kind of person to callously dismiss emotions. Perhaps you're the parent who doesn't recognize them at all. 

Even parents who have loving intentions can unconsciously fail to notice anything beyond their child's behavior.

Thankfully, there are a few factors within our control that can ensure that we raise emotionally healthy kids.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Jonice Webb, author of Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect, to discuss exactly what we miss as parents or more precisely - what we missed as children.

My passion is changing the way we speak to each other, but sometimes it is what's left unsaid that has the most impact.

In this TEACHable Moments guest interview, we'll explore exactly what makes outwardly successful people, who seemingly had happy childhoods, feel empty inside and longing to fill a void they cannot even name. 

Jonice shares what it means to be emotionally neglectful - even when we love and adore our children and what we can do to shift into a deeper connection.

(excuse the low-resolution - pretend it's 2003)

http://ctt.ec/eak6bEmotional neglect isn't something that happens to us but something that fails to happen for us. (Tweet it!)

Jonice believes we are a "thought-oriented society" which tends to deny the most essential part of our development. If you want to raise an emotionally healthy child, it is imperative that you focus on what's driving behavior.
As I became aware of the power and pervasiveness of Emotional Neglect, I felt compelled to draw awareness to it. My goal is to bring this unseen force from childhood out of the darkness and into the light. To make people aware of it, and its effects upon them. To give them the words to talk about it and the tools to fix it.

The problem is, most parents don't intend to neglect their children emotionally, nor are they even aware of what emotional neglect might look like.
In my own clinical experience, I have found that few, if any, of these people remember or report any of it. In fact, many of them report (and had) loving, caring parents who had no idea that they were failing their child. This is what makes Childhood Emotional Neglect so pernicious, so difficult to see, and so easy to overlook by clients and their therapists.

Having our emotions invalidated or left unrecognized is a painful experience. It can affect a child's sense of safety and security. It interrupts connection, weakens relationships, negatively affects self-esteem and has long-term behavioral consequences.

Awareness of our emotional history is a crucial component to creating change. 

Jonice has created a questionnaire to determine whether you grew up in a family where emotional neglect was present. Once you know what was missing for you, you can adopt new strategies to raise your EQ - emotional intelligence.

Take the quiz and then leave a comment below. Were you emotionally neglected as a child? Do you have trouble connecting with your kids now? 

Share your story - because you never know, it might just be the inspiration someone else needs to make the changes they were looking for!

Thanks so much for reading, watching, and sharing.
Have a great week and please remember, it's about being conscious - not perfect!

Talk soon,



     About Jonice Webb, PhD

Dr. Jonice Webb has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has been licensed to practice since 1991. Dr. Webb is the author of the self-help book Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. She has been interviewed about the topic of her book on NPR and over 30 radio shows across the United States and Canada. She has been the Mental Health Editor for Bellaonline.com, the second largest women’s website in the world. Presently she writes weekly on the Childhood Emotional Neglect Page on PsychCentral.com. Dr. Webb currently has a private psychotherapy practice in Lexington, MA, where she specializes in the treatment of couples and families. She resides in the Boston area with her husband and two teenage children. Connect with her on Facebook - Twiiter - YouTube - or on the web @ www.emotionalneglect.com

LIKE what you see? SHARE it with someone you LOVE!
If you don't see the comments, try switching from mobile to desktop view.

About Lori

Order Your Cards Today!

Order Your Cards Today!
Conscious Communication Cards - Kickstarter Rewards Extended thru 10/16