When your child comes to you almost in tears with a scrape on his knee from playing outside, what do you say? Do you reprimand him for not being careful or notice that your child is hurt and comfort him?Do you listen to your child when she tells stories of how a recent quarrel with a friend has made her sad and angry? Do you acknowledge her excitement when she tells you about her favorite show on TV? Sometimes, when parents work hard and long to provide for the needs of the family (e.g. food, shelter, education) the emotional aspect of child rearing tends to get overlooked. Therapist Sam Louie noted that, in his practice, many Asian children (now adults) know that their parents loved them “yet their hearts can not ‘feel’ the love. “The emotional disconnect comes from parents’ lack of the emotional care needed for the children to feel loved and have healthy attachments with their parents,” said Louie. How to avoid emotional disconnect Make sure your child is aware that you love him with the 4 "S":
SEEN Parents need to acknowledge their child’s emotions. They have to let their children know that they have seen and recognized that their child is glad, sad, disappointed or angry when emotional situations arise. SOOTHED “Kids need to know they can go to their parents and be soothed in times of emotional or physical distress. This means a combination of verbal reassurances and physical touch,” said Louie. When a child is reprimanded and shamed, like in the example given earlier when he’s hurt himself in an accident, the child may no longer see the parent as a safe harbor and a detachment starts to form. SAFE A child must be able to feel ‘safe’ to share her vulnerable emotions and feelings to her parent. “If the child can not share his feelings for fear of being ridiculed, blamed, or denigrated, the child will see the attachment as one that lacks emotional safety,” added Louie. SECURE According to Louie, the child must feel a sense of security that his parent is consistent with meeting his emotional needs. Caring for emotional needs involves talking to the child as opposed to talking at the child and giving guidance by not letting the child handle difficult overwhelming emotions alone. “If parents want their children to have healthy emotional worlds, they must tend to them,” said Louie.